A councillor in Bournemouth has defended Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) after her colleagues rejected plans to create more in the town centre.
Councillor Gina Pacifico-Mackin says she is “disappointed” at the belief that all HMOs are badly operated and create problems in communities.
She was the only councillor to support plans to convert a language school on Verulam Place into two HMOs, creating a total of 14 bedsits.
Nine members of Bournemouth’s planning board voted against the proposal, while Pacifico-Mackin did not vote.
An HMO owner herself, Pacifico-Mackin thinks the town centre is not suitable for families, but would suit HMOs.
She says: “I’m just a little bit disappointed that everybody thinks HMOs are run badly throughout the town. I run a perfectly good HMO and so do lots of people that I know.
“Why do we presume that whoever runs these HMOs will do a bad job? Just because you’ve got a lot of people living together in one place doesn’t mean they will be bad apples.”1
However, other planning board members disagreed. Council policy currently restricts the amount of HMOs in areas like Verulam Place, where there is already a high proportion of these properties. But since the building is a language school and not a residential property, these rules do not apply.
Councillor Bob Chapman comments: “The last thing we need is more HMOs in the town centre. There are already for too many badly managed HMOs in the Old Christchurch Road, Lansdowne and West Cliff areas.”1
Councillor Phil Stanley-Watts adds: “There is already a proliferation of HMOs in this area and it doesn’t enhance the town centre in any way whatsoever.”1
Additionally, Councillor Pat Oakley says: “At a rough guess, I would say the density of HMOs in Verulam Place is 50%. There is a tipping point where the problems that are inherent with them – antisocial behaviour, litter and parking issues – are exacerbated.
“We would be wrong to grant this application.”1