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



Representation on
Issues & Alternative Options, August 2006

1. Leeds HMO Lobby is a coalition of local community associations concerned to redress the impact on their communities of concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). In principle, the Lobby is concerned with the whole city of Leeds. In practice, most of the city’s HMOs (arising from demand for student housing) are in fact concentrated in Headingley Ward and adjacent parts of neighbouring wards. So, the Lobby has been especially concerned with Inner NW Leeds.

2. In some respects, in the light of its historic concerns, the Lobby has some diffidence in making representations on the West Leeds Gateway Area Action Plan. However, if there are concentrations of HMOs causing concern West Leeds, then the Lobby would be pleased to make contact with any local community associations. At the same time, the Lobby considers that solutions to the problems of local concentrations of HMOs must be city-wide. This view is supported by Leeds City Council in the Revised UDP, adopted in July 2006. The Section on ‘Student Housing’ (paras 7.6.28 – 7.6.31d) “deals with planning policy to control the growth of the student population in the wider Headingley area and measures to disperse students to other appropriate parts of the City.” These two objectives are addressed by Policies H15 and H15A respectively. These policies have been ‘saved’, to be carried forward into the Local Development Framework.

3. Policy H15A states, “the Council will work with the universities and with accommodation providers to promote student housing developments in other areas by identifying and bringing forward for development sites that would satisfy the criteria set out below.” The five criteria are concerned with transport connections, viability, integration, regeneration and impact on local housing stock. Specific sites are not identified. “The Council thinks that the process of identifying and agreeing such areas with stakeholders ... would be better achieved through preparation of the Local Development Framework’s Area Action Plans.” This is the reason for the Lobby’s present representation: the Lobby asks that the Revised UDP does inform the West Leeds Gateway Area Action Plan, and that this AAP considers the promotion of student housing developments.

4. The Lobby of course supports the Plan’s commitment to regeneration in West Leeds, including sustainability, mixed communities and balance. It is our own commitment to mix and balance which prompted the founding of the Lobby. Concentrations of HMOs (whoever they accommodate) undermine sustainability, by replacing a stable population with a transient population. This is not to say however that transience in general nor students in particular are a bad thing. A community distorted by transience or by students is not balanced and sustainable. But nor does a community devoid of transience or of students represent the mix which sustains the diversity and therefore the vitality of a community. The member communities of the Lobby have hosted a student presence literally for generations – and can vouch for the fact that, while studentification will destroy a community, on the other hand, a student presence can enhance it.

5. In the short term, a student presence can have a regenerative impact simply through the provision of student housing. Student residents spend money of course, and given the high density of student accommodation, their expenditure (though seasonal) may well be greater than that of family residents. At the same time, students patronise a different range of enterprises from longer-term residents – which adds to the diversity of a neighbourhood. It is worth noting that Armley has been identified by Unipol Student Homes as one of a number of community areas suitable for student accommodation. “Armley is an inner urban area with a mix of older terraced housing and newer properties. There is a mixed community with growing numbers of Asian households and students moving in. It has a shopping centre on Town Street, a range of pubs and open spaces and parks. The Aviarys area of Armley is accessible to the Vue entertainment centre on Kirkstall Road” (Unipol Student Homes, Housing tabloid, January 2006, p31).

6. In the longer term, a tradition of student settlement could contribute more proactively to the regeneration of West Leeds. A skills shortage is identified in the West Leeds Gateway Area Action Plan: Issues & Alternative Options (August 2006, p9). One of the major assets provided by the two universities to the city is the number of graduates who remain in Leeds, and contribute to its economic dynamism. A tradition of student settlement in West Leeds could enable this area to share in this asset.

7. In more than one way, therefore, consideration of student accommodation in West Leeds (appropriately managed) could make a significant contribution to the ‘over-riding principle of sustainability’ identified in paragraph 4.8 of the Issues & Alternative Options document (p8).

8 January 2007


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