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
Local Development Framework
Core Strategy
Preferred Approach

1 Leeds HMO Lobby is a coalition of all the local community associations in the Area of Housing Mix (Revised UDP 2006, Policy H15) concerned about the impact on their communities of concentrations of HMOs. Information on the Lobby, its aims, structure and membership, is available online. The Lobby's response to the consultation on the Preferred Approach to the Core Strategy of the Local Development Framework is concerned specifically with Question 12, on policy on student and other specialist housing.

2 The Lobby agrees with the commitment in paragraph 5.2.1 of the Preferred Approach to "sustainable communities, which offer a high quality of life and strong sense of place for the people who live and work within them." The Lobby supports the Regeneration Priority Areas identified in Policy SC1, and notes that "other areas in need of regeneration" may be identified. Some characteristics of areas in need of regeneration are listed in paragraph 5.2.4 (including deprivation, unemployment, unattractive environments, etc). To these, the Lobby recommends that another be added, specifically demographic imbalance (i.e. where the local demographic profile departs significantly from the city norm), and especially where this includes high population turnover. A polarised, transient population is not a secure foundation for a sustainable community.

3 The Lobby agrees broadly with the account of HMOs in general, and of student housing in particular, in paragraphs 5.3.45-5.3.48.
# First of all, however, the Lobby disagrees that "the HMO sector has been contracting" (5.3.47); on the contrary, numbers of HMOs in & around Headingley have increased hugely, such that they now outnumber all other forms of tenure. There are currently estimated to be 5,444 in the area.
# Secondly, the Lobby agrees that HMOs frequently offer poor living conditions for occupants (5.3.47), that "where there are clusters", the density of occupation can have a detrimental impact on amenity (5.3.48), and that such impacts arise especially as a result of "uneven distribution of the student population", especially in Headingley and adjacent areas (5.3.45) (paragraph 3.2 notes "the high proportion of young people [in Leeds], reflecting the city's role as a major provider of Higher and Further Education" - but not the fact that they are concentrated in Inner NW Leeds; meanwhile, the benefits of the universities are noted in 5.2.29, but not the costs). In addition, such "pressure on the housing stock available for other sectors of the population … reduces that stock suitable for families" (5.3.45).
# Finally, the Lobby agrees that "the population overall [in Headingley] is out of balance … and action is needed to ensure a sustainable community" (5.3.45). Specifically, "Planning has an important role to continue managing these issues by using powers at its disposal to ensure that communities are well balanced and sustainable for the long term" (5.3.46).

4 In the light of the last point above, the Lobby agrees with Policy H6: Location of Specialist Housing (and in particular, with the reference in the Summary document to 'student accommodation'), "development proposals will be controlled to ensure that specialist forms of accommodation are distributed around Leeds to reflect the location of needs and the characteristics of local communities." Policy SC6 confirms that this refers to student housing. In particular, the Lobby agrees with the need to maintain "the balance and health of communities."

5 Also in the light of the commitment to the use of planning powers "to ensure that communities are well balanced", the Lobby agrees with the proposal in paragraph 5.3.50 to prepare "supplementary planning advice for inner North West Leeds, to establish housing mix targets for local neighbourhoods" - if the recent consultation on the Use Classes Order results in planning controls on HMOs.

6 However, the Lobby disagrees that in fact "Planning [is] managing these issues by using powers at its disposal." At paragraph 1.6, reference is made to 'Saved UDP Policies', and it is stated, "where it is considered that 'saved' policies are still relevant and necessary in managing development, it is the Council's intention that these should be retained. Cross reference is therefore made throughout this document to 'saved policies'." Appendix 3 provides a Schedule of Saved Policies, and this includes Policy H15, Student Housing (page 25). This Policy was adopted in the Revised UDP in 2006, precisely in order to address the problems summarised in paragraph 5.3.45. It seeks to discourage further student housing at the expense (and to the detriment) of family occupation. Policy H15 should surely be cross-referenced at this point. The Lobby therefore recommends that Policy H15 is cross-referenced at this paragraph, and that the Core Strategy undertakes to retain this Policy, or better still, to update it in the light of PPS3 Housing (2006), the Regional Spatial Strategy (2008, Policy H5) and any new legislation on HMOs which may come into place.

7 In conclusion, Leeds HMO Lobby recommends:
# that in paragraphs 5.2.3-5.2.7, the Preferred Approach identifies demographic balance as an essential pre-requisite for Sustainable Communities;
# that paragraph 5.3.47 be amended to recognise the expansion of HMOs in Inner NW Leeds;
# that Policy H6 be adopted, with specific reference to student housing;
# that supplementary advice to establish housing mix targets in Inner NW Leeds be prepared, if the Use Classes Order is amended; and
# that Policy H15 (or a new, improved version) be retained in the Core Strategy.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 4 December 2009


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