CALLS have been made to stop developers trying to convert residential houses into shared accommodation.

This comes as the latest application for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) takes the total in one part of the borough to around 20.

Plans to covert a semi-detached property in Farnworth to an eight-bedroom house have come forward again.

A similar application to convert the same house to a 12-bedroom HMO was thrown out by the planning committee last summer.

Applications have also been made for HMOs in Plodder Lane, Manchester Road and Bolton Road.

Aquae Sulis Investments Ltd appealed the decision on the Park Street property which was dismissed by the planning inspectorate in December.

Farnworth councillor Jean Gillies fought the plans last year and has asked the planning committee to make a decision on this latest proposal too, rather than leaving it to council officers.

She is concerned about the added traffic and lack of amenity space that could result from this type of house which she said is only suited for inner-city areas.

Fellow Farnworth councillor Maureen Flitcroft has also spoken against applications for HMOs at several committee meetings.

She said: “I am totally against the increasing number of HMOs in congested streets in Farnworth and will continue to support residents in their objections to such applications.

"Whilst I readily acknowledge there is a need for housing, I do not believe that these get-rich-quick landlords have any place in Farnworth or Kearsley. It is important that any application adds value to our town."

The Farnworth and Kearsley First councillor identified similar issues with the shared accommodation as her Labour counterpart.

This includes anti-social behaviour and parking problems.

In a bid to fight the latest Park Street proposal, Cllr Flitcroft will be organising a public meeting to get residents' support to lobby the planning committee.

She added: "It is our party’s aim to fight all planning applications that have a detrimental effect on our residents and neighbourhoods - and the people of Park Street can rest assured that I will fight their corner.

"As ward councillors we are here to represent, support and help our residents - and that is what we will do.”

Cllr Gillies, who will also be fighting the Park Street plan, blamed legislation brought in by the coalition government for the number of applications in Farnworth recently which is now almost 20.

She said: "This is a loophole that developers have jumped on. That loophole is being exploited."

The new legislation which came into place in 2015 allows developers to convert family homes to shared accommodation more easily.

Since then, smaller HMOs with a maximum of six people have been considered "permitted development".

This means that family homes can be converted to six-bedroom HMOs without requiring planning permission.

This loophole has been highlighted at planning committee meetings in which many applications for larger HMOs have been discussed.

An application to convert a dental surgery in Bolton Road into a six-bedroom HMO was thrown out by the committee earlier this year months after permission for a seven-bedroom HMO at the same property was also refused.

Councillors refused the plans but noted that the applicant can ask to change the surgery to a residential dwelling and make it an HMO without needing approval after it is used as a family home for a period of time.

Cllr Gillies wants the council to put an Article 4 Direction in place which would prevent or limit the residential properties being converted to HMOs in certain areas.

This has been done in other councils in Greater Manchester including Manchester, Salford and Trafford.

Bolton Council currently has no plans to put an Article 4 Direction in place at the moment.