Plans are under way to restrict further the number of shared houses – or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – across Brighton and Hove.
Currently there are restrictions on the number of conventional houses being converted into shared houses – which are often let to students – in five council wards in Brighton.
Now a report to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Development and Culture Committee – which is due to meet next Thursday (17 January) – proposes extending the restrictions more widely.
Six years ago, in January 2013, “article 4” restrictions were brought in, preventing home owners from using “permitted devlopement rights” to turn their properties into shared houses without planning permission.
The rule change affected five wards – Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Hanover and Elm Grove, Queen’s Park and St Peter’s and North Laine.
If the rule change is extended to the rest of Brighton and Hove, home owners will not be allowed to turn their property into a shared house when more than 10 per cent of homes within a 50-metre radius are already classed as an HMO.
The report said: “It is important to note that an extension of the article 4 direction will not, and is not intended to, halt further HMO development.
“Rather, the direction and the current and emerging City Plan policies would give the city council greater ability to manage the outcome of change of use applications across the city through the planning process.”
Most shared houses are within the five wards covered by the existing restrictions.
There are pockets with very high concentrations – for example, by the London Road railway viaduct, New England Road and Beaconsfield Road – which are just outside the five wards.
An earlier report on the same subject was prepared in response to a petition submitted to the committee in January last year asking for a restriction on shared houses in Bennett Road, Bristol Street and Princess Terrace.
The three Labour councillors for East Brighton – Warren Morgan, Nancy Platts and Gill Mitchell – have also called for restrictions on shared houses in their ward.
The Argyle and Campbell Roads Residents’ Association has also written to the council to express concern about the effects of the growing number of shared houses.
One consideration in proposing a city-wide rule change is to avoid displacement – or a “cliff-edge” scenario – where the problem is shifted to streets close to an area where shared houses are restricted.
The initial restrictions were brought in as a response to changes to the character of housing estates and areas previously dominated by family homes.
This occurred as demand increased for cheap housing from the growing number of students, primarily along or close to the Lewes Road “academic corridor”.
The stabilisation of university student numbers and the increase in the supply of purpose-built student housing may mean that demand for shared homes is more likely to stem in future from non-student groups.
The latest Brighton and Hove Housing Market Report “highlights the severe housing affordability issue in the city”, according to the committee papers for next week’s meeting.
The report said that the average property price in Brighton and Hove was 48 per cent higher than the average for England and Wales.
Prices are also higher than for neighbouring districts such as Adur, Lewes and Worthing.
In Brighton and Hove the average one-bed flat costs nearly nine times the average household annual income.
A three-bed house in the city costs more than 16 times the average household annual income.
The average rent for a one-bed flat is £1,001 a month.
Renting a room in a shared property is significantly cheaper at £618 a month.
But the quarterly average advertised cost of renting a room has risen by 6.9 per cent since 2017.
Councillors are due to discuss the proposals at the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee at Hove Town Hall next Thursday (17 January). The meeting, which starts at 4pm, is open to the public.