New housing strategy could help control student population in Leamington and Warwick

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A report which could shape the future of how student housing and houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) are managed in and around Leamington and Warwick is likely to be approved next week.

Since July last year, a task group made up of Warwick district councillors from different parties has met every fortnight and has been gathering evidence from various departments within the district council, external organisations and other local authorities around the country.

The group will put forward recommendations from its report to the district council’s executive with the aim of addressing various issues from anti-social behaviour, waste and noise to tenant concerns of licensing and housing conditions.

They have also formulated a plan to address concerns of planning and concentration of HMOs.

One of several notable recommendations made by the report is for council officers to develop a student accommodation policy within the wider student housing strategy, which has already been approved by the executive.

The report states that this policy will “facilitate the development of purpose-built student accommodation distributed across suitable district locations as a better way of meeting need, rather than conversion of existing family properties to HMOs, and encourage all of these purpose-built sites to include on-site management and review parking policies with this accommodation - in particular on student tenant vehicle use and provide both adequate off-street parking for all new HMO proposals and adequate, secure cycle parking in all cases.”

The concentration of HMOs and student accommodation is a particular concern in Old Town, Leamington.

The group has recommended ways in which the rules set out to limit these concentrations are presented to show residents they are being correctly applied.

The report states: “The group recognised the particular concern that too high a concentration of HMOs could develop rapidly in a particular neighbourhood, as has happened in the past in Leamington and other towns and cities, unless there is close monitoring and regular reporting on trends.”

Additional measures to check whether landlords are ‘fit and proper’ to manage HMOs have also been recommended in the report.

It says: “Some of the 
issues and recommendations in this paper overlap with, and complement, the new measures expected to be implemented by the 
Government.

“This will take a tougher approach to rogue landlords, potentially include DBS checks, maintenance of a database, banning and de-licensing of persistent offenders and the use of civil penalties.”

The report will go before the executive at a meeting at Leamington town hall on Thursday (June 1) from 6pm.