At a special meeting on 12 November, the Policy Scrutiny Committee invited associations and individuals to voice their opinion on the proposed introduction of stronger regulatory powers for the city council to control the number of shared houses, called HMOs [Houses of Multiple Occupancy].
Rob Lewis spoke on behold of the West End Residents Association (WERA). He said the association held the view that the only way of halting the annexation of residential communities are the introduction of Article 4 Direction. He continued:
“It is huge resentment in the West End about the way our area has been allowed to deteriorate without no effective planning policy to cope with ever increasing student numbers.”
Rob Lewis received support from Karen Lee, the local councillor for Carholme Ward who said that introducing Article 4 would mean that where there is too much shared housing, landlords would have to put it somewhere else.
Cllr Donald Nannestad for Castle Ward said people living in his area had mostly good experiences from the students living among them, who mostly study at Bishop Grosseteste.
Both Brian Alcorn, president of the University of Lincoln Students Union, and Chris Robertson, president of Bishop Grosseteste University Students Union opposed the introduction of Article 4.
Brian Alcorn said: “Despite many students actively taking part in their local community we are still used as scapegoats. We are one shared community, both long term residents and students, and we students feel very strongly about that.”
Chris Robertson said: “The vast majority of students respect their local community. There is no quick fix to noise, littering and other anti-social behavior, if such an immediate fix is invented, the person behind it should get the Nobel Prize”.
Representing the University of Lincoln was John Plumridge, who said that most concerns and complaints had been about noise, poor behaviour, litter and condition of houses. He went on arguing that experiences from other cities showed that implementing Article 4 did not solve such issues.
Rob Mitchell, from the Federation of Small Businesses, received applause from spectators several times as he attacked the student bodies and the universities for not being responsible enough towards their local community.
He said: “Lincoln is a tourist city, but in the West End eight B&Bs have closed due to all the noise. There is simply no balance of housing in that part of the city.
“Why did the council let this happen?” he asked.
The students did receive some support from a resident, Vince Williams of Monks Road, who said it was unfair to accuse the students of being the cause of all the city’s problems. He said:
“There is a perception that HMOs are the cause of all noise, litter and anti-social behaviour. That is simply not true. Everyone who lives here have the right to be treated as a resident.
Maria Lyon, a resident of West Parade, told the meeting her 78-year-old mother, who lives on Newport, has been “bombarded by investors and estate agents knocking on her door, asking her to sell her house,” because the building is ideal for conversion into a HMO. She said:
“Our two large universities are frankly outgrowing the rest of the city, both literally and figurally.”
The Policy Scrutiny Committee will make a recommendation to the City Council executive who will make a decision in December.Tweet