Leeds HMO Lobby
What is a HMO?
Studentification in Leeds
Use Classes Order
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
Leeds HMO Lobby
Issues & Alternative Options Shaping the Future
Question 1 Aims & Objectives Leeds HMO Lobby
has three reservations.
(a) The Aims & Objectives of the Core Strategy embody inherent
contradictions. These may be beyond the scope of the Core Strategy
to resolve, but they should at least be recognised. On the one hand,
the Strategy aims to 'protect the environment' and yet at the same
time, 'promote economic success, with a high quality of life.' It
is widely recognised that, within our current economic system, these
aims are incompatible: what currently counts as economic success
and quality of life depend upon exploitation of the environment
which is unsustainable (a particular instance is Peak Oil, which
implies fundamental modification of our economic system [not mentioned
here]; the more general context is climate change [paras 3.5, 4.3-5],
the consequence of demands for a 'high quality of life'). On the
other hand, the Strategy aims to 'narrow the gap' and yet at the
same time 'promote Leeds as competitive city.' But competition necessitates
winners and losers - which of course establishes gaps. In the end,
gaps are realised in the disadvantage of individuals. It is difficult
to see how the city can be simultaneously competitive and egalitarian.
(a) The Aims & Objectives of the Core Strategy are explicitly
broad-based. Again, this may be unavoidable in a Strategy for the
whole city. Yet Shaping the Future emphasises the diversity
of the District (e.g. para 3.4). The fact is, every locality faces
its own opportunities and challenges, some certainly more extreme
than others. But nowhere do the Aims & Objectives, or the Strategy
in general, allow for the possibility of bottom-up, locally-initiated,
fine-grain approaches to the city's development. The nearest we
get is the brief section on Regeneration & Renewal (paras 4.29
- 31) which allows for just four localities.
(c) Both of the above points are manifest in Inner NW Leeds (where
Leeds HMO Lobby represents all the local community associations,
the residents who will benefit - or not - from the Core Strategy).
In fact, the Strategy offers these communities little encouragement.
Down-river from the city centre lies the physical peculiarity of
Knostrop sewage works: this is a problem addressed in the Aire Valley
Leeds Area Action Plan. But upstream lies the social peculiarity
of studentification in & around Headingley - a problem to which
the Core Strategy offers no solutions at all. In fact, NW Leeds
accommodates three of the features which might make Leeds a 'competitive
European city' - the Leeds-Bradford Airport, the Headingley Stadium,
and the city's two (three?) universities. But each, in different
ways, draws hugely on natural resources, and each inserts a wedge
of disadvantage. On the one hand, the Airport makes massive demands
for oil, and consequently contributes massively to climate change.
On the other hand, the universities, by swamping the area with a
transient population, massively damage community cohesion. (The
Stadium makes a modest contribution in both respects.)
Leeds HMO Lobby concludes that the Aims & Objectives of the
Core Strategy are inadequate to the needs of Inner NW Leeds. Further
detail is given in our responses to Questions 5, 8, 9, 11 and 26.
Question 5 Built Environment The quality of places
should be enhanced (a) by promoting the distinctive character of
different areas (ii) throughout the District, and (b) by encouraging
creative design in appropriate locations.
Leeds HMO Lobby recommends that the Core Strategy should encourage
Neighbourhood Design Statements throughout the District, in order
to encourage local communities themselves to promote the distinctive
character of their areas.
Question 8 Regeneration Priority Areas Additional
criteria should be used to identify regeneration areas.
The criteria given all concern the characteristics of established
populations (income, health, education, employment, etc) and their
environment (housing, dereliction, etc). What they don't include
is the impact of demographic imbalance. Leeds HMO Lobby recommends
that another criterion is added: Extreme demographic
imbalance. Demographic imbalance could be to do with
age (some towns have a dominance of elderly people; much of Inner
NW Leeds has two-thirds young adults). It could be to do with transience
(this affects the city centre; again, Inner NW Leeds has a two-thirds
transient population). Or it could be to do with seasonality (this
especially affects seaside towns or rural villages; but two-thirds
of Inner NW Leeds population is seasonal). In fact, Inner NW Leeds
suffers a triple imbalance. These characteristics impact on every
other aspect of life in Inner NW Leeds, the place and its culture,
economy, environment, community, etc.
Question 9 Regeneration Areas The criteria listed
do not capture all the reasons for loss of cohesion and sustainability
in local communities, which therefore need regeneration or restoration.
Leeds HMO Lobby recommends that Inner NW Leeds (especially the
Area of Housing Mix) should be identified as a regeneration priority.
Socially, it has the worst burglary problem in the city. Environmentally,
it has the worst recycling rate in Leeds. Economically, it has more
controls than any other suburb (Cumulative Impact Policy, Direction
on Letting Boards, DPPO, Area of Housing Mix, etc). The collapse
of community cohesion is evident in the worst electoral turnout
in the city (below 20%) [see para 4.78]. The Lobby advocates an
Area Action Plan for Inner NW Leeds.
Question 11 Affordable Housing
The options given for supply of affordable housing all concern
new-build. But one significant factor contributing to the reduction
of available housing and to the reduction in its affordability,
is the impact of second homes. These are normally associated with
rural locations (and there may indeed be some second homes in the
rural parts of the District). But in Leeds, second homes are primarily
an urban phenomenon. Probably some 5,000 houses in & around
Headingley have been converted in the last decade to seasonal second
homes for students - by landlords, by buy-to-let investors or by
parents. This haemorrhage has both reduced the number of houses
available as primary homes, and it has also exaggerated house prices
in the locality. Competition from alternative accommodations for
students (purpose-built developments) is destabilising this market.
Leeds HMO Lobby recommends that re-conversion of second homes is
encouraged as a contribution to increasing the supply of affordable
hosing in Leeds.
Question 26 Education The provision of high quality
education can be supported by all three measures listed.
In addition, Leeds HMO Lobby recommends that the HEIs in Leeds
be encouraged to increase local recruitment massively, for three
main reasons -
# to help to narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged
people in the city;
# to reduce the damage to the environment consequent upon the annual
migration of thousands of students into and out of Leeds; and
# to reduce demand by students for seasonal second homes, and the
consequent loss of housing for residents and damage to cohesion
in local communities.
To this end, colleges and universities should (a) make their facilities
available for wider community use, and (c) new HE provision should
be encouraged throughout the District (outside the Area of Housing
Leeds HMO Lobby