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Portsmouth Planning – The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly


 This month's Planning Committee was quite different from recent meetings, yet the outcome was largely as bad as ever and there was one aspect which we can only describe as diabolical.

The Good

Since the shuffle of roles after the local elections in May, Councillor Gerald Vernon Jackson has taken over as chair of the Planning Committee and whilst he has been long term anti-HMO, at least he knows how to run a meeting. He set the scene, explained the role of the committee and also its limitations, he kept deputations largely to time and constantly reminded attendees of what could and could not be accepted. Thank you councillor.

The Bad

We still have councillors who say '7 double beds so that means 14 people', this month we had endless debates about the extra sewage all of these people will produce and how the drains cannot cope – funny how this is never an issue for any other development – should we mandate low fibre diets as a condition of HMO tenancies? The drawings submitted these days have beds as previously several councillors showed their inability to read a plan by suggesting that certain rooms could not accommodate a bed – so the guidance now says 'please draw beds on the plan to scale, so councillors can better visualise the appropriateness of a room'. We know it is rubbish as people re-arrange rooms to suit the way they live, often on the day of arrival – yet this month, we had planning officers estimating the gap between the imaginary bed and the window and councillors debating whether 25-30cm was enough…. Don't even mention the 'usable space' debate . The worst councillor award goes to the member who suggested an HMO should not be near a school because of the people who might live in it – he never used the word paedophile but he made it pretty clear that was his concern.

The Downright Ugly

Back in April we were abhorred by the personal attack on one of our members (here). There are several councillors who stir up hatred of HMOs and then champion these disgruntled residents both at Planning meetings and across social media with the objective of increasing their support. Sadly, this becomes a vortex – the more councillors incite bad feeling toward HMOs, the more strongly people fear them, which encourages more extreme behaviours – I have spoken of parallels with Nazism before and some say I am over-reacting, but for me a very plausible outcome will be an  'HMO Kristallnacht' at some point in the future, with violent mobs on the streets smashing HMO windows and harming people who live in them.

Over reaction? Tell that to the PDPLA member who was told by a local resident, in front of a councillor who did and said nothing, that she hoped she 'died in a ditch' while others wished them dead, hoped they rot in hell and worse. As the member said, "Refusing this property due to the fear of crime being the irony, as I fear for the future tenants of Merivale having to live next door to the woman."

257 / 2 people / No Licence Needed
UoP Student Housing Go Above & Beyond

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