Allan Leonard said: “The Planning Service’s proposal to limit HMOs is to be welcomed. While this would be too late for areas such as the Holylands, where the HMO level is estimated at over 90%, it will help protect other residential areas, such as Stranmillis and Lisburn Road.
“For too long the Planning Service used no guideline to stop the overdevelopment of HMOs. This led to the complete changeover in the residential character of the Holylands, for example. Official recognition of the problem came at last from previous Direct Rule Minister, Angela Smith, who got legislation introduced so that any developer had to make an application before changing any house to an HMO.
“Yet the proposed plan goes further, in setting a defined limit in the number of HMOs.
“This plan, if taken in conjunction with wider Area Plans and properly implemented, could produce a better and more sustainable growth of the city of Belfast, which would benefit all its residents.”
NOTE: The Planning [Use Classes] Order [Northern Ireland] 2004 requires any house for which development will change its class to a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (ie. occupied by more than two persons who are not all members of the same family) to achieve planning permission.