Leeds HMO Lobby
What is a HMO?
Studentification in Leeds
Use Classes Order
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
Leeds HMO Lobby
Student Housing Project Group
1 Past In 2001, the Private Rented Sector Strategic
Working Group was established by Leeds City Council’s Department
of Housing, as part of an overall review of the city’s Housing
Strategy. This Group in turn set up three Project Groups, one of
which was concerned with Student Housing (which comprised half of
the private rented sector in the city). The SHPG comprised representatives
of the Planning and Housing Depts of the Council, of both universities
and their students, of Unipol and Leeds Property Association –
and through Leeds HMO Lobby, of the local community.
1.1 Leadership: SHPG has been chaired
by senior officers of the Council, initially Robin Lawler, and subsequently
Andy Beattie, Deputy Chief Environmental Health Officer.
1.2 Servicing: SHPG has been serviced
by the Housing Dept, now Neighbourhoods & Housing (specifically,
Neil Marsden, Principal Environmental Health Officer).
1.3 Agenda: In 2002, the Council adopted
the Shared Housing Action Plan (SHAP), comprising 53 action-points,
and delegated oversight of its implementation to SHPG.
2 Present The Student Housing Project Group is
currently in crisis. Usually, it meets approximately every six weeks
– but three months have now passed since the last meeting
(6 April 2005). Evidence for its success is unclear – anecdotal
evidence on the ground suggests that studentification in & around
Headingley may have reached a high-water mark; but the latest figures
from the University of Leeds show an actual increase in
imbalance in student housing in Leeds. What is clear is that developments
are market-lead, not managed – the proposed student village
in South Leeds appears to have collapsed, while a de facto ‘village’
is in course of development in Little Woodhouse.
2.1 Leadership: SHPG officers have accepted
Leeds HMO Lobby’s view that the distribution of student
housing in Leeds is the key issue (rather than standards). They
argue that this is a planning issue (not housing), so SHPG is more
appropriately located in the Development Department, rather than
Neighbourhoods & Housing.
2.2 Servicing: The officer servicing the
Group has done so without any allocation of hours, and this has
frustrated efforts to make the Group more effective. In addition,
Neighbourhoods & Housing is now confronted with the enormous
demands of introducing HMO licensing.
2.3 Agenda: SHAP was always limited (it
lacked any objectives, or monitoring mechanism). Accordingly, on
13 February 2004, on the instigation of the Lobby, SHPG agreed to
review SHAP. But the resulting Report (the draft was tabled on 6
April 2005) is disappointing. Its conclusions and recommendations
have been rejected by Leeds HMO Lobby ( see Response
to Draft SHAP Review).
3 Future Leeds has hitherto been at the cutting
edge of responses to studentification. Universities UK’s forthcoming
Guidance is largely based on the ‘Leeds Model’. But
the Student Housing Project Group initiative is in danger of ending
in ignominy. Leeds HMO Lobby has three proposals for its re-launch.
3.1 Leadership The Group needs strategic
leadership, a driving force, in a position to push policies, and
if necessary, take risks. This implies a Chair who is an elected
member, rather than an officer of the Council.
3.2 Servicing The Group is not directly
responsible for any actions. But overseeing an Action Plan requires
investment of time in co-ordinating efforts of partners. Wherever
SHPG is located within the Council, it requires servicing by an
officer with dedicated time.
3.3 Agenda SHPG requires an agenda which
identifies objectives, which approaches these thoroughly and systematically,
with a clear sense of priorities, and which regularly monitors progress.
Leeds HMO Lobby has proposed SHAP2 (Student
Housing Action Plan, version 2), which does all these things,
in a manner which we believe is not contentious and would be acceptable
to our partners. We recommend its adoption by a reconstituted Student
Housing Project Group.
Leeds HMO Lobby, 4 July 2005
Leeds HMO Lobby