Letter to Oldfield Park residents

Have your say on Shared Housing in our community

The Council has published its intention to introduce an “Article 4 Direction” to limit the further increase in the number of HMOs in our community. Unfortunately, it is not a “done deal” that the Direction will be implemented and is subject to public consultation – and then consideration by the Council’s Cabinet.

The Student Unions at both Universities have indicated that they will oppose the introduction of an “Article 4 Direction” because they feel their members should have as much choice about where they live as possible.

It is vitally important that responses are made to the Council Consultation. I know that the vast majority of Oldfield residents think that an “Article 4 direction” is needed and is in fact long overdue – but we must tell the Council that this is the case.

The Council has published a webpage with information about what an “Article 4 Direction” actually means – at www.bathnes.gov.uk/hmo

Please could I ask you to register your support for the implementation of an Article 4 Direction by writing an email of support to: Planning_Policy@bathnes.gov.uk The email does not have to be long and is best in your own words. You can also ask to be kept informed of developments as the policy progresses.

If I can assist you in any way or answer any questions you may have please contact me on willsandry@blueyonder.co.uk or phone 07786 830900.

Cllr Will Sandry

Victoria Bridge and a World Record

Victoria bridge is due to re-open late on Monday afternoon. This is great news for the whole community in Bath and will make it even easier for people from Oldfield Park to take part in the World Record attempt on Tuesday in Victoria Park.

The temporary bridge structure has a restricted width and is for pedestrian and wheelchair use only. Cyclists are asked to dismount and walk their bike over the bridge.

Unfortunately the bridge will have to be closed again later in the year so that the final restoration of the bridge can take place. The Council is due to make a decision on how this will happen later in the summer.

It’s still not too late to register to become a World Record holder and be one of 5000 people needed to form the Olympic rings in front of the Royal Cresent at about lunchtime on Tuesday 22nd May. Click here to sign up.

Housing Quality on the Agenda

The standard and quality of some Homes in Multiple Occupation has been a concern for some time.

Whilst many landlords are good and responsible, not all are. Usually poor living conditions come about when landlords do not invest in the property.

As well as introducing an Article 4 Direction to cap the numbers of HMOs in the City, the Council is considering an additional licensing scheme to drive up the quality of homes in the private rented sector. This may also be an opportunity to prevent the conversion of detached garages in to bedrooms.

The Council’s Housing Policy and Scrutiny Panel meets on Tuesday to discuss additional licensing. Click here for the agenda (Item 11).

Will, who is a member of the committee said: “I am fed up of seeing students and other young people in my community in sub-standard accommodation, with bad landlords who do not invest in the property. An additional licencing scheme for HMOs has the potential to improve the quality of accommodation in the private rented sector.

If used imaginatively, the scheme could also reduce the running costs of the homes for the residents by making requirements for energy efficiency and  insulation, in addition to the more standard fire safety, decorative order, and waste management requirements”

Article 4 and HMOs – What actually happened?

The Council’s Cabinet last night gave notice of intent t0 implement an Article 4 direction to cover the City of Bath within 12 months. If you are unsure what an Article 4 direction is, please see our HMO Q&A.

This decision has the effect of launching a formal six week public consultation at some point within the next 12 months.

After the consultation results and any other information that is required has been collected, the Cabinet will meet again to decide whether to:

  • Confirm (Go ahead with the Article 4 Direction),
  • Amend (Change bits, for example apply it only to some Wards / exclude some streets) or,
  • Abandon the Article 4 Direction.

The reason for giving this notice of intent is that it protects the Council from being sued by Investors if the final decision – to be taken in 12 months time – is to Confirm the Article 4 Direction

The Council also agreed to ask for evidence as to whether an Additional Licencing scheme should be applied to Homes of Multiple Occupation in the City. The HMO Q&A also explains what a licensing scheme could do.

Cllr Will Sandry made the following comments after the meeting:

“I am happy with the outcome, and was pleased with the engagement by students in our community (who spoke against the Article 4 direction) with both Local Government, and Oldfield residents (who spoke in favour).

In my speech I was clear that the universities have a corporate social responsibility not to take on more students than they or the city can accommodate.

Whilst I recognise the universities need to grow their businesses, they must engage with the Council so that we can understand their housing needs and help facilitate their aspirations for growth in a sustainable way.

The massive increase in the number of HMOs in recent years has had a long term impact on housing available in Oldfield Park for anyone not looking for multi-occupancy accommodation. The long term stability of a viable, diverse community is at a tipping point as a result of the rapid change of tenure.

Council also agreed to progress a licensing scheme for HMOs which has the potential to improve the quality of accommodation in the private rented sector. I am fed up of seeing students and other young people in my community in sub-standard accommodation, with bad landlords who do not invest in the property.”

Article 4 Direction

The Council’s Cabinet will debate a proposal to introduce an Article 4 direction to cover the City of Bath next Wednesday evening.

Additionally, this includes a proposal to introduce an additional licensing scheme which could improve the quality of shared housing in the private rented sector.

Will is aware that students in our community are concerned that an Article 4 direction may decrease the amount of choice that they have about where they live in their second and third years. Will has researched the Universites’ plans for building new accommodation and their projections for increased student numbers.

At present, Bath Spa University doesn’t have enough space in halls and its accommodation office block books streets in Oldfield Park for their freshers. The good news is that the University intends to create 550 study rooms on the Newton Park Campus: http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/development/residential-buildings/ This will be enough for all its freshers to be in University accommodation, and should free up over 120 family homes in the city. This could increase to 200 family homes if they build the 1,000 rooms they have potential to by 2030.

Bath University have told us that they will increase their student numbers to just over 16,000 by 2020. There are currently just under 15,000 students at Bath University. As long as they build the 2,400 study rooms they have promised there will be a surplus of over 1,00o rooms. See page 10 of the masterplan, but beware it is a 9Mb document: http://www.bath.ac.uk/masterplan/documents/Masterplan.pdf

Further Information:

Planning a street party?

The Council is waving all road closure charges for street parties in most streets over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend in June.

The Council has recently changed its policies to make it easier for communities to hold a street party. There is a dedicated webpage with all the important things you need to know.

The most important thing is to discuss your plans with the Council at least 6-8 weeks ahead of the event. You can email event@bathnes.gov.uk

Residents may also be interested to know that the Big Lunch is now in its fourth year and falls on Sunday 4th June. Check out their website for some great ideas about street parties and for a starter pack of information.

Oldfield – Residents Parking?

We have had a number of contacts from residents who have been frustrated by the lack of parking in recent weeks.

In response, we have added a new page to our website about Parking.

It summarises the results of previous resident surveys, outlines the future pressures on parking in our community and gives an idea of what kind of scheme could operate in our area.

Click here for the Parking page or use the Parking Tab on the main menu above.

As soon as details of the Council’s next formal community consultation on parking is available we will let you know.

In the mean time please complete our informal survey on the right hand side of this website, or add your comments to our Parking page.

Tetrapak Recycling

It is now possible to recycle tetrapak cartons through the household recycling collection.

Please note that tetrapak cartons need to be put with your cardboard recycling on your normal collection day.

Tetrapak recycling has been introduced by Cllr David Dixon in his role as the B&NES cabinet member for Neighbourhoods.

Houses in Multiple Occupation in Bath

Oldfield RooftopsA study considering the options open to the Council for regulating and controlling the future growth of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) within the City of Bath (including university student house shares) has been undertaken.

We know that many people have questions about the potential impact of such controls so we have prepared a HMO Questions and Answers section on this website.

A range of options have been identified by the Council which include:

  • Planning Controls to curb the increase in Houses of Multiple Occupation. Including the use of an ‘Article 4 Direction’ to trigger the need for a planning application when changing use from a family home to a small House in Multiple Occupation (with 3-5 unrelated people living together). A new Planning Policy would need to be introduced alongside this.
  • Extension of licencing by Housing Services to increase regulations and standards existing and future Houses in Multiple Occupation.

The Council has held a Stakeholder workshop in October 2011, click here to view a report of the workshop.

The issue has been considered by the Policy Transport & Environment Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel Report on 6th December 2011, click here to view the report.

Both the Development Control Committee and Cabinet are due to consider the options in March 2012. As always, please let us know your views on this subject.

Schools – Strike Action on 30th June

Tomorrow is a national day of teacher strike action. Our local schools will be closed, partially open, or fully open. Please check this page on the council website  http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/schoolclosures

Although the situation will not be clear until the morning of the strike, the website will be kept up to date and there are contingency plans in place to inform parents/guardians with regards to any schools that do have to close for the day.