How councils are quietly attacking students

Back in 2007, legislation was passed that allowed councils to introduce what is called an ‘Article 4 Direction’.  This allows them to control the location and numbers of ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ (HMOs). Almost all HMOs are student houses.

Warwick District Council explain:  “The effect of the Article 4 Direction will be that a planning application will need to be made to the Council for the change of use of a building from a dwelling house to a house in multiple occupation.  Currently, this change of use is permitted development and no planning application is required.  The purpose of the Direction is to give the Council greater control over the location of new shared houses.”

The impact on students is expected not only to limit the choices of where to live, but also the cost of living as rent prices in popular areas could rise considerably.

Surveys shown in this document from Exeter City Council demonstrates that the people who this policy will most effect (students) are against the policy, but consultation always concludes that most people are in favour of it, because most of the population are not students. http://www.exeter.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=15219&p=0 .

Leeds City Council claim that it is “recognised” that “high concentrations of HMOs can result in numerous harmful impacts including… anti-social behaviour, noise and nuisance… increased crime…”. Strange, then, that York City Council bothered to investigate such claims and were forced to admit that “Information collected to date does not indicate any significant deviations from the average across the city across a wide range of indicators such as crime, littering and noise.” In fact, the evidence they found suggested the opposite – that student areas had lower crime and anti-social behaviour levels. The report also warned that “a single characteristic of the idea of a ‘student’ is no longer possible”.

Nonetheless, York City Council, in line with dozens of other councils, went ahead and implemented the Article 4 Direction!

The report is here: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/(S(ldbrg245jv1hgo551yoldb45))/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=42691

Other cities which are implementing the policy include Oxford, Newcastle, Leicester, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Bristol.

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