Dundee City Council Development Management Committee meeting
Richard McCready25 October 2012
On Monday evening I attended a meeting of the Development Management Committee I spoke on item 4 which sought to change the planning conditions on the former Maths Department of Dundee University.
I am very happy for this site to provide accommodation for students, it is to all intents and purposes on the university campus.
I did however raise some concerns about the ease by which Section 75 conditions which put conditions on a development before it gains planning permission are being amended.
In this case the Section 75 condition was that there would not be Houses of Multiple Occupation at this site.
Firstly, I was concerned that market conditions were being used as a material consideration in planning decisions, I am sure that councillors had been told in the past that our opinions about whether a project is viable or not were not an issue for this committee?
Secondly, I wanted to have some reassurance that if this report was agreed that this does not sound the death knell for Section 75 agreements and in particular for the restrictions on the number of HMOs.
In the West End HMOs are generally a good thing because they ensure higher standards in the rented accommodation, mostly used by students.
However, I think that we have a duty to ensure that the West End is a vibrant and mixed community with students and families living in 'harmony' with each other.
This is good for the economic vibrancy of the West End and the city in general and also provides a better student experience in my opinion.
HMOs should not be the norm in the West End.
I am worried that we are sending out the message that all you have to do to get planning permission is say that you will agree to a Section 75 agreement and then come back to the council and say that you cannot make money on that basis and get it changed.
On that basis we will soon be recompensing the customers of William Hills and Ladbrokes for losing bets.
I was pleased to receive the reassurances that I sought but it is important that this situation is monitored to ensure that the vibrant nature of the West End.
As someone who lives in the West End I think that this is important for the area.