Liberal Democrats housing lead takes fight on HMOs and brownfield to Minister

The fight against low-quality HMOs and for more brownfield development has been raised with the Minister for Housing Stuart Andrew MP by local Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member Sam Al-Hamdani.

He said: “We keep seeing HMOs appearing on our streets, many of them using the loophole that allows smaller ones to bypass the planning system altogether. Too often they are terribly low quality, crammed in to make the most money out of the smallest space.

“At the other extreme, we keep seeing developers pushing for more and more four- and five-bedroom developments on green spaces. Councils rarely get the financial support to drive brownfield development, and have little or no legal powers to force development to take place on brownfield first.”

Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani overlooking Dovestones and one of the proposed GMSF development sites

Councillor Al-Hamdani wrote to the Housing Minister to demand that this approach is reconsidered, so that meeting the housing targets can be done without the current sacrifices to quality or to green space.

He continued: “The Liberal Democrats have been leading the fight against the lack of support for higher housing standards for years. At the local level, that means we have campaigned for a restriction on building HMOs through the local plan, as well as voting against the Places for Everyone proposals which – despite improvements, still see more building on green spaces.

“We need to see change on this, and it must come from the highest level. The Government must see that loading ever higher targets for building on to local authorities is currently driving down standards, and creating a situation where poorer people are forced into low-quality ‘cattle-pen’ accommodation.

“It should be possible to build the housing we need without sacrificing quality and open spaces. Right now, that is not happening, at either the local or the national level, and there is no progress being made while the two political administrations fight it out.

“If no effort is made to change this, the left hand will continue not to know what the right hand is doing. And it will be the people of Oldham who will be left in the middle with no solutions.”

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