St Andrews landlords fail in bid to create HMOs

The flats at the centre of the controversy
The flats at the centre of the controversy

North east Fife planning committee was this week asked to consider three applications by two landlords from the south of England who own the three-bedroomed flats in the Kinness Brook development in Kinnessburn Road.

They had previously had their applications to convert them to HMOs - houses of multiple occupation - rejected by the committee.

A moratorium on new-build properties being used in this way was imposed throughout Fife in 2014.

But the landlords asked for the decision to be reconsidered as the flats have been occupied by tenants for some time and, they claimed, were no longer ‘new build’.

Planning officials had recommended the applications be approved on the basis that they did not consider the flats to be ‘new build’, nor were they within St Andrews conservation area, where there is also a moratorium on HMOs.

However councillors at Wednesday’s committee expressed their dismay at the applications and unanimously rejected them again.

“This is a shocking situation,” said Councillor David MacDiarmid.

“We have to ask ourselves ‘when is a new build not a new-build?’

“This is an outrageous way to try to get around the regulations.”

Council lawyer Steven Paterson said that in planning terms there was no definition of ‘new-build’ and a pragmatic approach had to be taken as to what the term meant.

But councillors weren’t convinced and agreed with Councillor Brian Thomson, who moved refusal, that there was no need for any more HMOs in St Andrews and that they were already having a negative impact on residential amenity in the town. He also accused the landlords of trying to exploit HMO policy.

A separate application to turn a flat in St Nicholas Street into an HMO was also thrown out for the same reasons.