28/06/2006

Multiple occupancy homes to be limited

The Planning Service has announced that a limit is to be placed on the number of properties in Northern Ireland which can be converted into multiple occupancy homes.

A 30% cap is to be placed on the amount of these developments in any one street, which means that there will no longer be permission granted to convert properties in areas which already have a high number of these houses such as the Holyland area in south Belfast.

By doing this, planners hope that the move will see the regeneration of areas in some of Belfast's arterial routes.

A spokesperson for the Planning Service said that there was an increasing need for Houses of Multiple-Occupancy (HMOs), but added that the purpose of imposing the limit was to ensure that the problems that exist in the Holyland don't extend to other parts of Belfast.

Sinn Féin MLA for south Belfast, Alex Maskey, has welcomed the announcement as the first step in dealing with the issue.

Speaking about the launch of the Planning Services HMO Subject Plan last night, Mr Maskey said: "I would broadly welcome the publication of this report, particularly plans to cap the number of HMO's in specified areas, as the first step in

developing a comprehensive plan to deal with the issue of HMO's. This is

something we have long campaigned on and Sinn Féin will be making a more

detailed submission in time on this document.

"I am mindful that for some areas this may have come too late. However, I

believe that there is potential in this document, if it is implemented as

part of a coherent strategy, to reverse some of the detrimental effects that

the over-proliferation of HMO's have had on many communities."

He added that the moves to work towards the building of proper student accommodation are also to be welcomed and will, hopefully, take much of the pressure off of local residential communities.

The Sinn Fein MLA concluded by saying that many residents in South Belfast will breathe a huge sigh of relief that at last this issue is being taken seriously and that it is important to ensure that there can be no backtracking on the proposals laid out

in this document.

(EF/SP)

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