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Council votes to devise new policy to control HMOs in Maidstone

A council has voted to beef up policies to prevent the growing number of HMOs in the town.

Over the last few years, Maidstone has been subjected to frequent applications to convert ordinary homes into a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) – often with six or more residents.

Cllr Clive English: “We need to get a grip.”
Cllr Clive English: “We need to get a grip.”

When councillors have objected, the applicant has often appealed, and last month the council was ordered to pay around £3,000 costs to a developer who had his application to establish an eight-bed HMO in Charles Street “unfairly refused.”

Cllr Clive English, leader of the council’s Lib Dem Group, said: “Maidstone has seen a large number of such applications.

“These often cause serious problems because they do not come with enough parking spaces.

“But the planning committee often cannot refuse them because the council has no relevant policies to require sufficient parking.”

In February, councillors were obliged to grant planning permission for the conversion of a former village parsonage in Tovil into a 29-household HMO.

The Haven in Church Road, Tovil, will now become home to 29 separate households
The Haven in Church Road, Tovil, will now become home to 29 separate households

The plans provided for only nine off-road parking spaces.

At a recent planning committee, Cllr English proposed that the members requested the cabinet member for planning and regeneration, Cllr Paul Cooper, to commission the work needed to put in place a firm policy to prevent the subdivision and extension of urban properties in areas with inadequate parking.

The motion was agreed unanimously.

Cllr English said: “We need to get a grip on this issue once and for all and commission the work to get the evidence of parking pressure in these areas so that we can finally put policies in place to prevent inappropriate development.”

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