Fife Council has announced plans to consult on proposals to limit the growth in HMOs in St Andrews .
Convenor of the Council’s Community and Housing Services Committee, Cllr Judy Hamilton explained “We’ve previously looked at different ways to reduce pressure on accommodation, particularly in the centre of St Andrews. This included a moratorium on new HMOs in the central conservation area of St Andrews through planning legislation but unfortunately this hasn’t solved the problem. ”This is a major issue for the town and we will continue to work with the University to find long-term solutions that will meet the future needs of both students and residents.”
“We’re now surveying the community with a view to changing our housing policy. Residents are being asked their opinion on options within the range of 0% (no further growth) to a maximum of 3% (limited further growth). The council’s preferred option is for no further growth based on information available at this point.
Commenting on the consultation proposal, David Middleton, Chair of the Confederation of St Andrews Residents’ Association (CSARA), welcomed the decision to consult and expressed support for the 0% increase option currently preferred by Community and Housing Services, saying “the student population living in the town has increased at the expense of families and non-students who have been priced out of the market due to the upward pressure on house prices from buy-to-let investors. “Many former council houses have been turned into HMOs and it is important to realise that the option of a 3% increase is a proposal for an increase in the number of homes that would be converted into HMOs, not a 3% increase in the number of HMOs. This would lead to an additional 220 HMOs – a massive 35% increase in non-university HMOs.”
He went on to say *There is no demonstrated need for more HMOs but there is a pressing need for more affordable homes. The University has stated that its new purpose-built residences will meet its planned increase in student numbers so there is no reason why HMO numbers should not remain at their current levels. Only by adopting the zero increase policy is there any hope of St Andrews retaining any semblance of a mixed sustainable community.”
This development is the latest committee stage in a process that began in May 2018 when the North East Fife Area Committee considered the proposal for the introduction of an HMO overprovision policy and its two options: no increase in the number of HMOs and a 3% increase in the number of dwellings converted to HMOs. NEFAC voted by a large majority for the motion ‘to recommend that the Community and Housing Services Committee consider the introduction of a new threshold policy, under housing legislation, with the thresholds set at the current percentage of existing HMO properties in the respective three zones (Zone 1 – Central Conservation Area 17%, Zone 2- East 5% and Zone 3 – West 3%)’ (i.e. the 0% increase option).
At its meeting on 30th August, Fife Council Community and Housing Services Committee agreed, in principle, to the introduction of a strategic HMO overprovision policy for Fife under Section 131A of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (introduced by the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act (2011). It further agreed to consult on a preferred HMO overprovision policy for St. Andrews, offering residents options within the range of 0% (no further growth) to a maximum of 3% (limited further growth) whilst stating the Committee’s preferred option was 0% based on information available at this point.
Questionnaires will be distributed to St Andrews’ households from the end of January 2019 and a separate survey will be issued to local organisations and students and the issue will be debated again at committee on April 11, 2019. https://www.fifedirect.org.uk/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.display&objectid=C520CA99-DC9A-021A-78BEE68039D1B904
For further background on the HMO issue in St Andrews, go to: https://standrewsqv.org.uk/2018/11/the-hmo-problem-in-st-andrews-and-possible-solutions/