UPDATE Controversy over homeless plan in residential area

UPDATE: We understand that this planning application is being withdrawn. We are happy to point out that the Restore charity rents an office at the Gateway Church premises on Front Street but is otherwise not connected with that organisation.

Councillors on 6th June will consider a planning application to convert a property in St Stephens Road into homeless accommodation.  

Four bedrooms in the semi-detached property will be let to individuals who are judged to be currently homeless. The application is associated with the Gateway Church in Acomb and is part of their “Restore” programme

St Stephens Road

It is unclear from where the clientele, intended to be accommodated there, will come from. A few years ago, a similar application to provide accommodation for former offenders in a property in  Tithe Close also raised concerns.

Several residents have objected to the plan which involves declaring the property a “House in Multiple Occupation” (HMO). HMOs have a long history of controversy in parts of York with family accommodation being converted to meet the demands of the City’s burgeoning student population.

Maintenance issues prompted the Council a few years ago to specify the maximum proportion of HMOS that there could be in a neighbourhood. This was an attempt to retain “balanced” communities”.

The number of HMOS in the St Stephens Road area – which is some distance from the nearest higher education facility – is not an issue. There is only one other property nearby which has the designation.

Rather residents concerns have focused on the transient nature of the likely occupants of the  property. They are concerned that few will stay long enough to become integrated into, what is, a tight knit community.

Of course, we will never “solve” the problem of homelessness if permanent accommodation options are not made available to those who fall on difficult times. So, initiatives like these are generally to be welcomed.

The charity operates outside the direct control of the local authority and therefore has a responsibility to be accountable to the local community.

The effectiveness of their management and communications is likely to be under scrutiny if the planning application is – as expected – approved.

Residents can attended and register to speak at the meeting taking place on 6th June.

New licensing rules for houses in multiple occupation


New national licensing conditions for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are being brought into effect which could improve the quality of accommodation provided in York.

A council motion on 26 October 2017 requested a review of evidence supporting the case for extended licensing. A report being put to senior councillors on 15 March, outlines the government’s recommendations and asks if there is a case to extend licensing locally through an additional, discretionary HMO licensing scheme.

The government’s changes relate to a national scheme which, subject to parliamentary approval, proposes to:

  • extend mandatory licensing to all HMOs – other than those converted pre 1991 and flats in larger, purpose-built blocks – that are occupied by five or more persons in two or more separate households
  • Introduce mandatory conditions for the minimum sleeping room sizes and maximum number of occupants in all licensed HMOs
  • Introduce a mandatory condition to provide refuse storage facilities.

Details of the scheme will be announced before it becomes law on 1 October 2018. Then, evidence on the legislation’s impact will be assessed to consider the need for an enhanced, local scheme.”


Student housing under review

City of York Council’s third, five-year Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing programme is to be considered at Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods on 16 December.

The programme aims to further improve the sector by ensuring that homes meet expected standards and are well-managed, and the session will also consider streamlining and making the scheme more cost effective.

The first two schemes operated from 2006 and 2011. The new scheme that will run from 2016, is proposed to have a new condition: licence holders must demonstrate that they have the required up-to-date knowledge and skills to operate a HMO. They should be able to show that they have attended, as a minimum, a one-day professional development course provided by the council, or alternative courses which have been recognised by the council as meeting the necessary standards.

Houses in Multiple Occupation -change proposed


The York Council’s Local Plan Working Group will be asked to note and approve the findings from a comprehensive review which highlights some of the challenges facing the shared housing sector in York

The Council has issued the following media release which outlines how they are likely to restricted the number of “shared” houses in particular areas.