A North East MP has welcomed news that plans for a group of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) for asylum seekers in his constituency have been put on hold after backlash from residents.

Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris has praised the move by the Mears Group to pause the plans for the HMOs in Peterlee after a group of locals hit back at proposals, citing concerns for safety and crime.

According to information provided by residents, it is understood that the homes were located in the west area of town close to the A19.

The Northern Echo: The protest against HMOs in Peterlee in Durham on Wednesday (February 28).The protest against HMOs in Peterlee in Durham on Wednesday (February 28). (Image: CONTRIBUTOR)

In a statement posted online, Mr Morris said: “I welcome the statement by the Mears Group. We have an open and welcoming community in East Durham, the issue is not about asylum accommodation, but the imposition of HMOs within residential communities, for which there is no demand for such accommodation.

“I will continue to be robust in my representations to the Government and the Mears Group if they persist in trying to impose HMOs in the Easington constituency.

“I thank the Mears Group for their constructive engagement on this occasion, and I am pleased to note that plans for Peterlee are now paused and they are looking at other options.”

The news of the halt on the conversions came last week, just days after a group staged a protest outside Durham County Council in an attempt to lobby them to axe the plans altogether.

However, a spokesperson has confirmed that planning permission from the council is not required unless the HMOs are to accommodate over six people.

They are "not aware" of any such plans in Peterlee for this.

A Durham County Council spokesperson said: “All local authorities follow the nationally set legal framework in relation to the regulation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and we are obliged to issue an HMO Licence if the licensing requirements are met.

“When an HMO is for more than six people, planning permission and consultation with local residents is required. At present, we are not aware of any proposals for HMOs for more than six people in Peterlee.”

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, previously expressed his concern over the HMOs as he believes it could increase crime in the area.

Whilst he is pleased the conversions have, for now, been paused, he hopes they will not go ahead at all.


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He said: “I found out about the HMOs in January and none of the neighbours knew about it. If the HMOs are for five or under people, the neighbours have no say.

“It’s absolutely no good for the area whatsoever. I want to fight it under a few grounds.”

He added: “The thought of the crime rate possibly going up does not make me feel safe – I already do not feel safe in this area.”