Courtesy of Jerry Gillen

  • An HMO is any property shared by “three or more unrelated people”
  • There are 2 types of HMO’s
    1. Occupied by 3 to 6 people (AKA ‘Class C4’)
    2. Occupied by 7 or more (AKA ‘Sui Generis’)
  • Since the 23rd of March 2012, Under Council Regulation anyone buying a house wanting to convert it into an HMO MUST apply for planning permission first.
  • There are thresholds to the amount of HMO’s in a given area called Supplementary Planning Documents. For our area in Portswood, it is a maximum of 20% of dwellings.
  • The SPD says that “a radius of 40metres or a minimum of 10 houses is the area within which the threshold should be calculated” (So no more than one in this radius!)
  • It is obvious that in both Portswood, Bassett and Bevois Wards, these thresholds have already been exceeded hence no more HMO’s will be allowed in these areas
  • HMO’s can also ‘FLIP’ to convert themselves back to a family home without losing the right to become an HMO again


To ensure that there are no more HMO’s, it is super important to look out for unauthorised house conversions and report it to OARA and the council. They can do the rest; whether it’s offering a Planning Contravention Order or asking the owner to desist.

Resident of the Month….GLADYS

Why do we love her?

Gladys is 92, has lived in Alma Road for 62 years and she is the best neighbour you can have!

What’s she like?

As a teenager she was rebellious having left school before matriculating. Now, she loves to garden, do tricky crosswords and socialise with the residents of the White Lodge Care home. Gladys is also an Elder of Avenue St. Andrews Church!

What else has Gladys done in Southampton?

Gladys worked in a sweet shop/tobacconist where Lloyds bank is now. She also worked in her father’s cycle shop –with no special favours! Later she taught English to women immigrants and helped children read at May Field Nursery. On her 90th birthday, Gladys bought herself a new racing bike!

Meet the Family

Her father opened a cycle shop in Portswood and she and her two sisters went to a Girls Grammar School in Argyll Road. She met her husband, Len, at the Regents Cycling Club and has two sons, Malcolm and Frank, who often played with their go-cart in Cambridge Road.

Why She’s a Good Neighbour to Have…

Gladys is a caring and friendly person who, in the past, has opened her home to the homeless under the Nightstop initiative. She often has a long list of cats, dogs and chickens to look after up and down Alma Road, and she still owns the best tended garden in the neighbourhood!

Last Season update:


By Rachel Lil

Many people were alarmed to see mass holes in their front gardens and wielding villagers running around carrying pitchforks and spades through the streets of Avenue Road, Gordon Avenue and Alma Road on December 3rd. But it was soon to their relief to be reminded of the latest Greening group project, planting blossom trees around Portswood as part of the National Tree Planting period.

In total, an impressive 25 trees were placed in the ground as a celebration of the tree planting season and an initiator for community integration. Over the past few months, the Greening group has worked hard to raise funds to cut down the cost of the trees so that more people could get involved. Successful table top sales and gardeners evenings meant that the trees were sold at a humble £20 with gardening provided by the members of the group.

Although the group is mainly resident based, there is always an open invitation for more students to get involved and feel part of the community. The organisers of the event Susan Swallow, Judith Payling and Maggie O’Connor are always thinking ahead, planning another 5 trees to be planted in the Spring time and have high hopes that projects like these will give people things to do together and introduce people to their neighbours. A big thanks to Hilliers Nurseries for providing the trees.

Lights, Hampers, Action!

By Jemma Percy

For the residents of Portswood, Christmas 2012 may not have been a ‘white’ one, but thanks to creative neighbours, it was defiantly a bright one. Fuelled with imaginative thinking and festive spirit, residents took to designing a decorative display of seasonal stars and lights outside their homes to celebrate the season and ignite the streets. And, this year such talent did not go unnoticed.

The OARA team and a small group of neighbours took to the streets and followed the lit pathways to admire the creative sparks of homeowners who had dressed their houses. As a result one would be announced Portswood’s Best Dressed House of Christmas 2012 and win the prize of a luxury hamper. Judge and local resident, Barbro Fitzjohn described the displays as, “fantastic, charming and cheerful” as the panel admired the lights. After much conferring among the judges, it was decided that locals Peter and Birgit, were the winners. Barbro Fitzjohn felt their garden was, “friendly and uplifting to walk by”. The runner ups were Maggie and Mike, who won by their “magical tree”, and those at 60 Alma Road for their “classical tasteful house so well kept with all the old features intact and with matching symmetrical decorations in period”. Congratulations to our winners and a big thank you to all those who took part! Keep up to date with the OARA newsletter for more competitions!


Do you fancy trying something new? Here’s some of the activities we run:

  • Greening Group
  • Street Cleaning
  • Wheelie bin management