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Weekly wins three-year fight to give readers greater say on HMOs

People living on a weekly’s patch will get a greater say about plans for new shared housing after a three-year fight by the newspaper.

New rules on Houses in Multiple Occupation on four Corby estates will finally come into force next month after the Northamptonshire Telegraph’s long-running campaign on the issue.

The campaign was launched after a July 2021 investigation by Telegraph reporter Kate Cronin showed there were 263 large HMOs in Corby and revealed London property speculators were being sent on courses to teach them how to buy up cheap housing in the town.

The revelations prompted the Kettering-based weekly to call for an Article Four Direction to be made in Corby, which would mean all HMOs from more than three people would have to go through the planning process.

Corby HMO 24

That direction will finally come into force on the Kingswood, Hazel Leys, Exeter and parts of Beanfield estate later this month, prompting the Telegraph to splash on the news last Thursday.

Labour councillor John McGhee, who represents Kingswood on North Northamptonshire Council, told the paper: “This is an issue that has been pushed hard by Labour councillors representing Kingswood so we are pleased with the outcome.

“We have been raising the issue of the impact of saturation of HMOs in any given area for quite some time.”

Cllr David Brackenbury, the council’s Conservative executive member for growth and regeneration, said: “The aim of the direction is not to prevent this type of development, but to give the council the opportunity to properly assess the impact of this type of development within the designated area through the requirement to submit a planning application.”

Kate told HTFP:  “We think it’s really important that we listen to our readers carefully, and try to use our platform to help them to force change where it’s necessary

“Local people had been telling us for some time that they knew that HMOs were a necessity in a town like Corby but that they were fed up with the issues they brought with them, and with the over-intensification on some estates.

“This is a unique town, built on migration, and incomers are always given a warm welcome here. But sometimes the authorities need to intervene to make sure that the people who come here are living in safe, decent conditions that help encourage them to settle here and to become a real part of the communities in which they live.

“We are very glad that local politicians got on board our campaign and that North Northamptonshire Council listened to what we were saying, investigated fully and produced a fantastic solution to the issues people were facing. It’s one of those rare times where everyone pulled together and did a good job to make life better for people living here.”