July 27, 2017 6:39 am

City politicians lift ban on ‘granny flats’ in neighbourhoods near Western and Fanshawe College

London city council chambers.

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The number of “granny flats” available in London may be about to go up.

City politicians decided late Tuesday night to lift a ban on “secondary dwelling units,” otherwise known as granny flats, in neighbourhoods near Western University and Fanshawe College.

A granny flat is a self-contained living area connected to a single-family home.

While there are currently some granny flats in “near-campus neighbourhoods,” those units were grandfathered in.

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Residents in campus neighbourhoods approved of the prohibition, arguing the granny flats created student ghettos and negatively impacted the area. Proponents of lifting the ban view granny flats as a new kind of affordable housing.

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Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire, who represents north London near Western, said the issue is a passionate one for his constituents.

“I’m sure some of you have received emails from some of my constituents. My favourite one was from a lady who wanted to know how we could initiate proceeding to secede from the city of London in Ward 6. I certainly would never go that far but emotions are high in my area,” he said.

Council voted 8-4 in favour of lifting the ban. Squire, Josh Morgan, Paul Hubert and Stephen Turner voted to keep the ban, Anna Hopkins recused herself while Harold Usher and Jared Zaifman weren’t present for the vote.

The vote follows a decision by the planning committee last week, but goes against city staff who recommended the prohibition continue.

Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer argued a city bylaw limiting single detached homes from a maximum of five bedrooms would limit granny flats from housing too many people. Helmer said the issue was fairness.

“The problem I’m having is if we have this prohibition, you’re forcing people to come through an official plan amendment and a zoning amendment process that costs $15,000 to have something that somebody literally across the street will be allowed,” he said.

There are no prohibitions on granny flats in any other parts of the city. The flats will be allowed in a detached home, semi-detached home or a townhouse.

A previous guideline from the city required owners who install a granny flat to live in the primary unit but that was changed by the province.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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