Council launches ‘shared houses’ planning consultation

Terraced houses

Bedford Borough Council is proposing that the number of ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) is restricted to 30% of properties within an area.

The Council is holding a consultation on planning guidance setting out how ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) or ‘shared houses’ can develop in Bedford Borough.

Providing much-needed, low-cost accommodation, HMOs are an important part of the housing mix.

The Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) under consultation aims to encourage balanced communities by providing guidance on applications to convert, use or develop properties as HMOs.

The SPD sets our four core principles which any HMO development must meet. The first is ‘Maintaining Balanced, Inclusive and Mixed Communities’ and introduces a threshold for HMOs in an area.

This is proposed to be set so that the total number of HMO households is no more than 30% of the total number of properties in a 100m radius of the application property.

The second sets out standards for HMO properties in ‘Creating a Healthy Living Environment’; ensuring that they provide good quality accommodation for residents.

‘Ensuring Safe Access and Adequate Parking’ is the third, introducing specific cycle and car parking requirements.

The fourth is ‘Creating Well-Designed Places’, setting out measures to ensure that there are no harmful visual impacts from HMO development.

Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Planning said, “Shared houses – HMOs – are a key part of the mix of accommodation on offer in Bedford Borough, particularly in the urban areas and immediate surroundings. It is important that we do everything we can to ensure that they are providing good quality housing for residents and are playing their part in creating balanced communities in our towns. Please do get in touch and have your say.”

You can view the documents at and respond to the consultation by email to by writing to HMO SPD Consultation, Planning Services, Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP.

The consultation will close on Tuesday 7 July.

If you wish to discuss the content of the SPD, the Council will be hosting a dedicated phone line on Thursday 25 June from 9.30am to 8pm.

Please call 01234 718559 during those times and if you are unable to speak to someone immediately please leave a message and you will be contacted.

If you are unable to use online facilities and would like to see a paper copy of the document please call 01234 267422 to make an appointment at the Council’s Customer Service. Please only visit us in person if you really can’t access a computer from your home. Strict social distancing measures are in place at the Customer Services Centre.

The Council will provide a paper copy of the document by post if required and an individual is unable to view/print the document online; call 01234 718559 to find out more.

Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

Will you help sustain our work today by clicking below ? Even a small donation makes a difference for our future.

Thank you for your support.