Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Ms. Carolyn Donnelly, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            Apologies were reported on behalf of Alderman Copeland and Councillor Hutchinson.





            The minutes of the meeting of 17th February were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st March, subject to the omission of those matters in respect of which the Council had delegated its powers to the Committee.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were recorded.



Delegated Matters


Consideration of Designating Resolutions for Street Trading Sites pdf icon PDF 269 KB

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            The Building Control Manger reminded the Committee that, at its meeting of 18th November, approval had been granted to initiate the statutory process for the designation of seven new street trading sites across the City, which had been identified as a result of internal application or expressions of interest received from individuals wishing to trade from new sites. 


            He reported that three of those sites were before the Committee for consideration and reminded the Members that, should a proposed site become designated, the Committee would further consider any subsequent applications received for a Street Trading Licence on any of the sites.


            He advised that the designation process had involved seeking comments from interested parties and relevant statutory bodies, through public advertisement and consultation and that officers had consulted with the PSNI, Department for Infrastructure (Roads), Belfast City Centre Management Company for city centre sites, and local residents and businesses. 


            The Building Control Manager outlined the proposals, and highlighted comments which had been received from interested parties, for the following three sites:


·             Castle Place, adjacent to an existing kiosk;

·             12 Lockview Road at Belfast Boat Club; and

·             King Street, second parking bay moving away from Castle Court.


            Based on the information presented, the Committee agreed to:


            Approve the proposal for a site to trade in commodities to be determined, but excluding the sale of hot food at Castle Place, adjacent to an already existing kiosk; and


            Approve the proposal for a site to trade in hot and cold non-alcoholic beverages, confectionary, ice cream and cold food or similar commodities at 12 Lockview Road, at Belfast Boat Club.




            Moved by Councillor Smyth,

            Seconded by Councillor McCullough,


            Based on in the information presented, including concerns which had been raised by both the PSNI and Belfast City Centre Management, that the Committee refuses the proposal for a site to trade in hot and cold food and non-alcoholic beverages at night time, at the second parking bay, moving away from Castle Court, on King Street.


            Following a vote, ten Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was declared carried.



Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licenses Issued Under Delegated Authority pdf icon PDF 298 KB


            The Committee noted the applications that had been issued under the Scheme of Delegation.



Applications for a New Licence to operate a House of Multiple Occupation for 17 Balfour Avenue pdf icon PDF 611 KB

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            The HMO Unit Manager provided an overview of the application and explained that, as a valid objection had been received, the application must be considered by the Committee, pursuant to the 2016 Act and legal advice.


            He advised that no noise complaints had been received in relation to the property.


            He reported that on the 23rd February 2021, pursuant to Paragraph 9 of Schedule 2 of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, officers had issued a notice of proposed decision to the applicant setting out the terms of the proposed licence.


            He further reported that the notice of proposed decision had stated that the Council proposed to refuse the licence as the Council could not be satisfied that the owner was a fit and proper person, and he referred to the following statement of reasons for refusal:


“The Council may grant a licence only if it is satisfied, in addition to other considerations, that the “…the owner of the living accommodation, and any managing agent of it, are fit and proper persons (see section 10)…” (Section 8(2)(b)).

Section 10 of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) provides that in deciding whether a person is a fit and proper person, the Council must have regard to (a) the matters mentioned in subsections (4) to (7), and any other matter which the council considers to be relevant.

Following a referral to the NIHMO service an authorised officer called at the property on the 19th October 2020 and spoke to an individual at the front door of the property, that individual confirmed he resided in the property with 3 other unrelated individuals and paid rent to the owner Mr Michael Clarke.

On the 22 October 2020 an evidence of household notice was served on Mr Michael Clarke in accordance with Section 5(2) of the 2016 Act, inviting him to supply to the Council, within the period of 28 days beginning with the date of service of the notice, evidence that the occupants form no more than two households.

On the 26 October 2020 Mr Michael Clarke submitted an application to licence the property.

On the 17 November 2020 a response to the evidence of household notice was received in which Mr Clarke confirmed “that the current occupants of the property do form more than two households“.

Included with the response to the evidence of household notice Mr Michael Clarke indicated that he had applied in August 2019 for, and in, November 2019 a certificate of lawful use or development (CLEUD) was granted. The evidence submitted in support of the application included rental agreements which confirmed that the property had been rented out annually, to at least 3 persons, since August 2014, thereby establishing the lawful use of the property as a HMO.

On the 7 December 2020 an authorised officer from the NIHMO Unit inspected the property and established that the property was occupied as an HMO by 4 individuals who form  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Non-Delegated Matters


Update on the Review of Licensing Legislation pdf icon PDF 254 KB

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            The Building Control Manager presented the Committee with an update in respect of the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To update Members on the review of Entertainments Licensing legislation, which was commenced by Minister of the Environment, Mark H Durkan MLA, in 2015.


1.2       The process did not progress as in 2016 the Minister for Communities decided not to do any further work on the review. Following the resumption of the Assembly in 2020, the new Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, decided that further work on the review should be taken forward.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to note the report.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1       The Department for Communities has responsibility for the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, the legislation governing Entertainments Licensing. This legislation was previously the responsibility of the Department of the Environment.


3.2       The current entertainment licensing scheme has been in place since 1985 and was reviewed in 2015 when the Minister invited key representatives from the entertainment industry to review and make recommendations on changes to the licensing system.


3.3       Members are reminded that the Committee granted approval for Trevor Martin, former Head of Building Control and Nora Largey, Divisional Solicitor, to sit on the Entertainments Licensing Review Group comprising representatives from the entertainment sector, local government, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Health.


3.4       The purpose of the review was to put in place a system that did not place an undue burden on businesses and local community groups but also ensure that the public are not put at risk and that entertainment does not cause unreasonable disturbance to people living in the area.


3.5       The aim of the review was to update both the legislation and the Model Terms and Conditions, to remove outdated provisions that no longer have beneficial effect and introduce new ones to deal with innovative issues.


3.6       The Review Group reported its findings in February 2015, making 36 recommendations for a future licensing regime. Although recommendations were subject to a public consultation and an indication given that more detailed proposals would be developed by the Department the review ceased in 2016.


3.7       The Council, further to a Special meeting of the Licensing Committee on 23 June 2015, agreed a response to the consultation on 1 July 2015.


3.8       Some of the key recommendations of the Entertainment Licensing Review Group and the Department’s response included:


·        There should be a single licence covering both indoor and outdoor entertainment at a venue;


·        A new Temporary Licence should be introduced to allow for one-off events by businesses or community groups;


·        An entertainment licence should remain in place unless surrendered by the licence holder or revoked by the council;


·        To ensure that action can be taken in response to any problems, local residents, the PSNI and NIFRS would be able to request that the council review the licence at any time  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Department for Communities On-Line Questionnaire as part of the Review of Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing Scheme pdf icon PDF 501 KB

Additional documents:


            The City Protection Manager presented the Committee with an update in respect of the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The Department for Communities has commenced its review of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (‘HMO’) Licensing Scheme as the scheme has been in operation for almost two years having come into effect on 1st April 2019.  A draft response to the Review which is being conducted via an on-line Questionnaire was previously considered by members who expressed concerns that the proposed response did not adequately address the concerns and frustrations encountered by the Council in trying to regulate the existing HMO housing stock and impacts on local communities. To facilitate a revised response, officers requested a further extension of time (previously extended by Department for Communities (‘DfC) from the 5th February to the 19th February) until 11th March 2021.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Taking into account the information presented, Committee is asked to note and agree the Council’s proposed response to the on-line questionnaire issued by DfC in respect of their review of the HMO licensing scheme.


2.2       Committee is also asked note and agree an additional submission to DfC to be considered as part of their review highlighting legislative anomalies and omissions with suggested amendments to improve the delivery and administration of the HMO licensing scheme.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1       DfC wrote to Belfast City Council on 22nd December 2020 to indicate that it wished to seek views in relation to the review by means of an online questionnaire on the NI Direct website on the following link


3.2       The review questionnaire poses 9 questions and the proposed answers to the questions have been provided in Online Questionnaire response.


            The HMO Review is seeking views in the following areas;


1.    Improvements to the management of the HMOs

2.    Improvements to the overall standards of HMOs 

3.    Improvements to the current fitness standards expected in HMOs

4.    Improvements to the safety standards associated with living in an HMO

5.    The value for money associated with the HMO licensing scheme

6.    The effectiveness and accessibility of the HMO Guidance

7.    Effective and timely communication between councils and landlords and councils and Department

8.    Views on the administration and delivery of the scheme

9.    Identification of respondent.


3.3       Officers have considered the views and representations of the Licensing Committee regarding the concerns and frustrations encountered by the Council in trying to regulate the existing HMO housing stock and their impacts and effects on local communities. The following views are now reflected in the proposed response to the  Review of HMOs;


3.4       The Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the review of the HMO Licensing Scheme being undertaken by the DfC. In seeking to provide answers to the questions posed in this questionnaire, taking account of the Council’s lead role in administering and delivering the scheme on behalf of all councils in Northern Ireland, the Council believes that the review also gives DfC the opportunity to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.