Leeds HMO Lobby


Leeds HMO Lobby

What is a HMO?

The Lobby

Local Action
Policy Papers
Studentification in Leeds

National Action
Use Classes Order
HMO Licensing
Students & Community

National HMO Lobby

Leeds HMO Lobby



North West District Plan

The North West District Plan covers the NW Wedge of Leeds, and was prepared by the NW District Partnership. The first draft was published early in 2005, and on 13 May, the Lobby contributed to the consultation on the draft District Plan. However, in April 2006, without further consultation, the District Plan was revised. Leeds HMO Lobby responded on 3 July 2006.

North West District Action Plan

Leeds HMO Lobby welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the development of the NW District Action Plan.

A Harmonious & Safer Communities

Action A4 is welcome, but confusingly described. It is evidently concerned with addressing the impact of the HEIs in Inner NW. Perhaps this should be made clear to start with.
· The Actions should begin with a general statement, followed by (a) SHAP (the Shared/Student Housing Action Plan); the other two Actions, (b) ASHORE and (c) partnership, are actually included within SHAP.
· The Priorities addressed certainly include 'co-ordination' and 'cohesion'; but none of the Actions specified are directly concerned with 'crime'.
· The Outcomes follow from the Actions (and don't explicitly mention crime).
· It seems odd therefore that the Lead Organisation is the Police - they are not involved in any of the Actions, nor are they regularly represented on the Student Housing Project Group (which has responsibility for overseeing the implementation of SHAP). The SHPG should be the lead organisation. And since nearly everything SHPG has done has been at the instigation of Leeds HMO Lobby, the Lobby should be identified as a key partner.
· At the Lobby's instigation, SHAP has been the subject of a review; unfortunately, the Lobby finds the draft Review quite unacceptable. The Lobby's alternative proposal covers the whole of A4, and more. (The Lobby’s Proposed SHAP2 is attached, and is also available online.)
· The Lobby recommends that A4 also includes promotion of the Community Code ('Say Hello, Keep the Peace, Clean Up'), proposed by the Lobby. This was adopted by Area Committee's sub-group CHEF, with the idea that it should be promoted by all parties, at all opportunities.

B Thriving Places

Action B1 on affordable housing is welcome. But it doesn't address the problem of affordable housing in Inner NW. The Actions are all concerned with new sites or new units. The last thing Inner NW needs is more development, it's overcrowded already. Our problem is the disproportionate number of properties in the PRS, which has priced out owner-occupation and social housing. B1 should include measures to redress the balance, especially if the demand for the PRS declines (there are clear indications that it may). The Lobby makes suggestions in Section D of our Proposed SHAP2.

Action B6 The Lead Organisation should be 'Student Housing Project Group', not 'SHAG'.

Action B8 The Lobby proposes an additional Action B8. The new planning regime, of Local Development Frameworks, provides for Area Action Plans for areas of significant change or conservation. We believe there is a good case to argue that Inner NW qualifies for an AAP. B8 would comprise:
· Action: Develop an Area Action Plan for Inner NW Leeds.
· Priorities: (1) affordable housing, (3) decent homes [also priorities A(3) cohesion and C(2) environment].
· Outcomes: implementation of ASHORE, of Headingley Renaissance, of Far Headingley Design Statement, development of Statements for other neighbourhoods (like Headingley) [see Action F6], use of HMO licensing to reduce PRS, promotion of Inner NW [see Action G2], etc.
· Timescales: depends on LDF.
· Lead Organisation: LCC Development Dept; partners: include NWAMT, Housing and Leeds HMO Lobby.

D Transport

Despite District Priority (1) ‘Improving transport infrastructure - key roads and transport flow’, there is no reference to restraint on parking. In parts of Inner NW this is a severe problem, arising from the concentration of the population in HMOs (student houses have two-and-half times the average of Leeds for cars per household). It is not simply an inconvenience for residents, it also obstructs public transport, it obstructs trade, and it is dangerous - often obstructing pedestrians (pavement parking), cleansing vehicles - and potentially, emergency vehicles.

E Learning

Despite District Priority (6) ‘Increasing involvement in Further and Higher Education’, there are no Actions referring to FE or to HE.
· In the first case, Inner NW has FE provision only at Park Lane College’s Brudenell Centre, which (like the schools) is under threat from a reduced intake (of local adults).
· In the latter case, there is no reference to local recruitment to HE, beneficial not only to the local population, but also to the problems of studentification.

F Enterprise & Economy

Action F6 should make clear that Design Statements are as applicable to city suburbs as to villages - witness Far Headingley; and Headingley has plans to follow Far Headingley's example.

G Culture

Action G2 is welcome, as it implements the Lobby’s proposal for Leeds Left Bank.
· However, it is not clear why the Action is described as a ‘feasibility study’. Leeds Left Bank is intended to be 'a cultural, promotional & marketing strategy' for Inner NW – which would seem to require a policy decision, rather than a feasibility study.
· Action G6 is described as ‘developing a cultural, promotional & marketing strategy for the area.' This Action therefore duplicates Action G2.
· Action G2 has the additional benefit that it also relates back to the priorities of most of the previous Sections (improving well-being, improving quality of life, improving pride, improving learning generally, etc).

Leeds HMO Lobby will be pleased to elaborate on any of these points.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 6 June 2005


Representation on the
North West District Plan

1. Leeds HMO Lobby is an association of associations, a coalition of all the local community associations in Inner NW Leeds affected by concentrations of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation), campaigning for action to ameliorate the impact of these concentrations on the sustainability of their communities. It was recognised by Leeds City Council in 2001 as representative of the community on the Council’s Private Rented Sector Strategy Group, and on its sub-committee, the Shared Housing Group (formerly the Student Housing Project Group). The Lobby also represents the community in other fora where HMOs are an issue, such as the Area Committee and its sub-groups, the Leeds Landlords Accreditation Scheme, and so on.

2. Leeds HMO Lobby has contributed to the development of the North West District Plan. We attended the North West Leeds District Partnership conference Making it Happen in Horsforth on 2 Feb 2005, from which the District Plan first emerged, and to which we specifically contributed a Leeds Left Bank proposal. On 13 May, the Lobby contributed to the consultation on the draft District Plan. We attended the North West Leeds District Partnership conference Delivering Priorities & Engaging Effectively in Headingley on 15 July 2005. The next that was heard of the District Plan, a year later, was a Report on the District Partnership tabled at the meeting of the Inner NW Area Committee in Headingley on 29 June 2006 – when the Lobby learned that a major revision of the Plan, reducing it from 157 actions to 39, had been agreed by the Partnership Board in April.

3. Leeds HMO Lobby has fundamental criticisms of the new District Plan. The first of these is that the Plan fails to recognise the principal problem in Inner NW Leeds, namely the development of studentification, which now dominates some two-thirds of the Inner Area. Not one of the 35 District Priorities in the Plan even alludes to studentification, and only one of 39 actions is concerned with the issue. Yet its impact is both broad and deep – student shared housing dominates at least two square miles of the Inner Area, and students constitute the majority of the population in Headingley Ward and adjacent parts of all the other wards. The distorted demographic (transient, seasonal young adults) impacts on all elements of the District Plan, including Harmonious Communities (lost cohesion), Thriving Places (dominated by second-homes), Environment (degraded), Transport (seasonal congestion), Learning (lost services), Enterprise & Economy (a ‘resort’ economy), Culture (a monoculture), even Health & Well-being (lifestyle & isolation). The unsustainability of the community is especially marked by democratic disengagement. (‘Studentification’ is now acknowledged by universities and government as a national problem, in Universities UK’s report on Studentification, 2006. Omission of this problem from the District Plan is equivalent to overlooking the impact of the Knostrop sewage works in the Aire Valley Action Plan.)

4. Leeds HMO Lobby’s second fundamental criticism of the District Plan is that the solutions proposed are ineffectual. The actions may be more ‘deliverable’, as the Area Committee Report suggests, but that simply means that they are avoiding the difficult problems. More seriously, those proposed follow standard lines of action. These may well be relevant and effective in more ‘normal’ areas. But in Inner NW Leeds, many are largely irrelevant, and many simply don’t work with a predominantly unstable population. The Area Committee has resorted to extreme available measures (like the Cumulative Impact Policy and the Designated Public Places Order), but it has also pursued innovative policies (like ASHORE, the Direction on Letting Boards, and the award-winning appointment of a Community Planning Officer). The District Plan needs to do likewise. The one action which does address studentification is frankly insulting. Action A3 has no greater ambition than “improving community relations in the areas with significant student population.” (Such a superficial approach was roundly rejected by MPs in the Commons Seminar on Studentification on 27 June 2006, hosted by the MP for Leeds NW.) One outcome of Action A3 is the new Shared Housing Action Plan (SHAP2), one of whose objectives is “to reduce the number of students in full-time education accommodated within the Area of Housing Mix as a proportion of the population, by the Census in 2011.” The actions assembled in SHAP2 need to be endorsed and extended by the District Plan.

5. Leeds HMO Lobby’s final fundamental criticism of the District Plan is that it lacks vision. It’s not that it is ‘less visionary’ (according to the Area Committee Report) but there is no clear vision for the Inner Area at all. There is no shortage of vision among the remaining resident rump in the area. Supported by the Area Committee, residents have produced Headingley Renaissance (2005), ‘the community’s vision for a balanced and sustainable future.’ The Heal Headingley communication network vigorously promotes a balanced, sustainable community. Headingley Development Trust has been founded by residents to intervene pro-actively to regain sustainability. Leeds HMO Lobby proposed the Leeds Left Bank strategy, grounded in widespread grassroots support, which has been dropped from the District Plan. The Lobby calls for the restoration of this vision. Without such a vision, how can we make things happen?

6. Leeds HMO Lobby suspects that the flaws in the district Plan may originate in the constitution of the District Partnership itself. The two Area Committees, Leeds NW PCT, Leeds NW Homes, Education Leeds, West Yorkshire Police – all clearly have an interest in the District, and are essential partners in its development. But are not residents also partners? And is their voice not essential, when the Partnership also includes special-interest corporations like the universities and the airport – whose own interests may conflict profoundly with those of residents. The Lobby regrets that there has been no public consultation on the revised District Plan.

7. Leeds HMO Lobby concludes that the North West District Plan lacks both credibility and legitimacy. On behalf of the residents it represents, the Lobby declares that the Plan as it stands is unacceptable.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 3 July 2006



Leeds HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk/leeds