Leeds HMO Lobby


Leeds HMO Lobby

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Leeds HMO Lobby



University of Leeds
Inner North-West Community Strategy 2007-2012

In 2005, the University of leeds began a review of its Community Strategy, originally published in 2000. Leeds HMO Lobby put proposals to this Review [below]. On 26 June 2007, the University finally launched its Inner North-West Community Strategy 2007-2012. The Lobby responded with a Representation. The University replied in October.

Leeds HMO Lobby, University of Leeds Community Strategy Review

1 Leeds HMO Lobby welcomes the University of Leeds Community Strategy Review – both the fact of the Strategy, and the Review which is being conducted.

2 Leeds HMO Lobby is an association of associations, a federation of community groups in & around Headingley. It comprises some two-dozen groups, large and small, old and new, formal and informal. These formed the Lobby in order to sustain their communities, specifically in the face of the unique threat of concentrations of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation), which in the Headingley area take the form of HMOs housing Leeds universities’ students. In particular, the Lobby was formed five years ago, in 2000, to provide mutual support, to disseminate information, to co-ordinate action and to represent the communities in & around Headingley. The Lobby’s aims and activities are recorded on its website.
2.1 In its representative function, the Lobby is recognised by Leeds City Council as representing the local communities, on the basis of a thorough vetting of its membership, its structure and its procedures. As such, the Lobby represents the community on the Council’s Student Housing Project Group and on the Leeds Landlord Accreditation Scheme, it represents the community in the Leeds UDP Review – and it also did so in the consultations on Leeds University’s Housing Strategy.
2.2 In its campaigning function, the Lobby has made over thirty representations to national bodies, and published over thirty policy papers locally. In particular, the Lobby has invested considerable effort in understanding the problems of the communities in NW Leeds, in order to resolve them. The Lobby has sought –
· to understand the idea of community: see The Concept of Community (shortly due for publication in the collection Returning (to) Communities);
· to analyse the process and product of studentification: see Studentification;
· to identify its main effects on the community: see Symptoms of Studentification;
· to propose actions to remedy these effects: see Student Housing Action Plan (which is a proposal for a revision of Leeds City Council’s Shared Housing Action Plan, itself currently the subject of review).

3 Leeds HMO Lobby anticipates that the University of Leeds’ Community Strategy (like any strategy) will be grounded in its aims. Any community’s ultimate aim (like that of any living organisation) is to sustain itself. Ironically, the necessity for a strategy for the local community arises from the presence of the University itself.
3.1 The local community’s aim is sustainability – and so it hopes that this too is the aim of the University’s Strategy. ODPM identifies eight characteristics of a sustainable community (active, inclusive & safe; well run; environmentally sensitive; well designed & built; well connected; thriving; well served; and fair for everyone). Until ten years ago, all of these characteristics flourished in & around Headingley. Developments within the last decade however have eroded them all. The prime cause is the loss of the pre-requisite for a sustainable community, that is, a balanced and stable population. This loss is the effect of the University’s rapid expansion of its student intake, so that it now dominates the local population – hence, the studentification of Headingley.
3.2 The primary objective of the University’s Strategy must be the restoration of the demographic balance in & around Headingley. Leeds HMO Lobby has identified two objectives in particular: (1) to reduce the proportion of students in Headingley Ward to 33% of the population by the Census in 2011; and (2) to increase the proportion of students accommodated outside ASHORE to 33% of those not living at home, by the same date. In addition, the Egan Review (2004) has identified fifty indicators of a sustainable community. The Lobby proposes (3) that some of these indicators be adopted as the objectives of the Community Strategy.

4 Leeds HMO Lobby has proposed a new Student Housing Action Plan to address the whole issue of studentification in & around Headingley. SHAP2 is intended to tackle both its causes and its effects. The Lobby recognises that the University’s Housing Strategy is necessary to address the causes. However, it is not sufficient. (1) The Housing Strategy is only partially concerned with demographic imbalance, (2) most students live outside University provision (in the private sector), and (3) redressing the imbalance requires measures beyond simply a Housing Strategy. The following measures may be considered for inclusion in one or other of the University’s Strategies.
4A Strategy
1) Share experience of tackling studentification with other universities, especially through UUK’s forthcoming Guidance.
2) Review the Housing Strategy, especially with reference to the Private Rented Sector.
3) Support a dedicated LCC Student Housing Co-ordinator.
4) Support an Annual Review of the Student Housing Action Plan.
4B Restraint
5) Support ASHORE and its revision.
6) Support the introduction of mandatory HMO licensing by LCC, and lobby LCC to apply to ODPM for additional HMO Licensing within ASHORE (see License the Lot).
7) Support the enforcement of housing standards by LCC and Unipol.
8) Monitor student numbers in ASHORE.
4C Reorientation
9) Develop student housing provision outside ASHORE.
10) Promote guidance to students to housing outside ASHORE (see Students in the City).
11) Monitor student numbers throughout Leeds.
4D Revival
12) Support an Area Action Plan for Inner NW Leeds.
13) Support affordable housing initiatives in Inner NW Leeds, such as a Special Purpose Vehicle and/or a Community Land Trust.
4E Community
14) Promote the Community Code.
15) Maintain bilateral dialogue with the local community.
16) Support liaison between students and the local community.
17) Support the promotion of Inner NW Leeds, for instance, the Leeds Left Bank initiative.
18) Support an annual Sustainability Assessment in & around Headingley (e.g. through the Helpline).
4F Social
19) Promote the University’s disciplinary procedures.
20) Support Community Safety initiatives in & around Headingley.
4G Environmental
21) Support environmental initiatives in & around Headingley, such as the Headingley Design Statement, Streetscene, litter-picks, clean-ups, garden maintenance, parking permits, development control, and so on.
4H Economic
22) Support economic initiatives in & around Headingley, such as Headingley Renaissance, the Cumulative Impact Policy for licensing, and so on.

5 Leeds HMO Lobby hopes to have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the University of Leeds Community Strategy Review.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 4 July 2005

LEEDS HMO LOBBY Representation on University of Leeds Inner North-West Community Strategy 2007-2012

Leeds HMO Lobby makes five main points on the University of Leeds' Inner North-West Community Strategy 2007-2012, published on 26 June 2007.

1 Leeds HMO Lobby of course welcomes the publication of the Community Strategy. The University was a pioneer in this regard in 2000. That it still remains the exception, rather than the rule, is unfortunately a poor reflection on the rest of the HE sector.

2 Leeds HMO Lobby however regrets the complete omission from the Strategy of what is in fact the over-riding concern in the local community regarding the impact of the University - which is of course the demographic imbalance arising from the colonisation of huge areas in & around Headingley by students at the University (and other HEIs). For instance, in one quarter-square-mile of 72 streets in South Headingley, with a population of 10,000, students outnumber residents by two-to-one (and some streets are almost entirely student houses) (Census 2001). This imbalance towards a young and transient population does enormous damage, most importantly to the social capital of the neighbourhood. This is what matters most to the community, since it threatens its very existence. At the same time, it makes a nonsense of the stated themes of the strategy.
2.1 Communication: This theme subscribes to the woolly-liberal fallacy that there is a 'talking cure' for structural problems.
2.2 Cohesive Communities: The very idea of integration is a nonsense in (for instance) a street of 54 houses, of which 51 are student houses (Chestnut Avenue).
2.3 Matching Resources to Needs: The potential benefits of the University's presence pale into insignificance in comparison with its cost to the local community.

3 Communication: Despite the fallacy noted in 2.1, the Strategy itself fails to live up to its aspiration to communicate. Eight consultation workshops are cited (p9), but all of these deliberately ignored the representative organisation set up by the community itself specifically for the purpose of dialogue - that is, Leeds HMO Lobby itself. And the preparation of the Strategy text did not seek the benefit of dialogue and critique. (The community's perspective on the emerging Strategy was articulated in the Lobby's University of Leeds Community Strategy Review of July 2005 [above].)

4 Cohesive Communities: In addition to the redundancy of the notion of integration (2.2), the Strategy neglects a key issue arising from imbalance, the subjection of residents to the indiscipline of the University's students. Leeds HMO Lobby has proposed five criteria for a credible disciplinary policy by the University (comprising visibility, co-ordination, expedition, escalation and credibility, see Keeping the Peace). But the Strategy has nothing at all to say about the indiscipline of students, which does so much damage to the repute of the University and its students.

5 Matching Resources to Needs: Apart from the cost/benefit balance noted in 2.3, the Strategy neglects to engage with the community's own efforts to restore sustainability in Inner NW Leeds. The need for such a restoration is widely acknowledged, and is indeed a principal objective of the Shared Housing Action Plan (to which the University subscribes). But the Strategy makes no reference, for instance, to the Leeds Left Bank project - in which it could (should) be a key player).

Leeds HMO Lobby looks forward to discussing these points at the next meeting of the University's Community & Housing Forum. In the mean time, the Lobby would be pleased to take advantage of the Community Policy Officer's offer to attend our organisation.

Dr Richard Tyler, Co-ordinator, Leeds HMO Lobby, 4 July 2007

University of Leeds, Response to Leeds HMO Lobby regarding the University of Leeds Inner North-West Community Strategy 2007-2012

The University welcomes the response from Leeds HMO Lobby.

This response addresses the 5 main points raised by the HMO Lobby:

1. The University of Leeds appreciates the recognition as being a pioneer in this field over the last 7 years.

2. The University acknowledges that the HMO lobby represents a significant number of community members that see demographic imbalance as the overriding concern. However the University also views students and young professionals as part of the community and that they may not entirely share the views of the HMO Lobby. It should also be made clear that the University did not intend to omit demographic imbalance as an issue. The primary driver for the joint production of the Community Strategy and Housing Strategy Update and the complementarity between the two documents ensures that there is a cohesive approach to both the strategic representation and activity to support the development of sustainable communities.

The University regrets the view of the HMO lobby that the themes of the strategy are ‘nonsense.’ Explicitly communication was identified during the public consultation as the key theme. Communication, whilst not a cure in itself is necessary to engage the community and the University in a genuine two-way dialogue which can then lead to action on the ground.

Cohesive communities refers to the broader support and integration of students as active citizens. The strategy document refers to the whole of Inner North West Leeds and therefore takes the view that the issue is being considered in areas that have differing levels of student occupation. It does however also recognise that in certain areas that the concentration of students creates significant problems in creating a sustainable community.

The University understands that for some people in Inner North-West Leeds that its benefits ‘pale into insignificance in comparison with its cost to the local community.’ It should also be recognised within Inner North West Leeds that there are substantial economic and social benefits to having a large student population. It is acknowledged that in some areas the loss of community can not be mitigated by an increased access to resources and facilities.

3. The University of Leeds attended a specific meeting with the HMO Lobby in order for them to express their views and concerns. Richard Tyler, as Head of the Lobby, was invited and attended one of the consultation events as well as hosting the meeting with the University.

4. As Leeds HMO Lobby are aware the University was the first University to set up a Helpline for students and local residents to raise concerns about their local area. This process has undergone a rigorous reassessment and strengthening of procedures to deal with concerns including the behaviour of students. This has been approved at the highest level within the University and its relaunch alongside the community strategy provides a clear role and remit of the University in dealing with issues of this nature. The University has also implemented an internal critical incident plan to deal with major incidents. It is also important to recognise that the University managed to secure the involvement of Leeds Met in the service as this was identified as the major weakness during the public consultation.

5. The University disagrees that it ‘neglects to engage with the community’s own efforts to restore sustainability’. The University through representation on the Inner North-West District Partnership is a key player in developments in the area. The University has not formally subscribed to the ‘Leeds Left bank Project’ but neither has it failed to recognise it as a proposal by the HMO Lobby. The University is keen to be involved in new developments such as the Neighbourhood Design Statement and other broader regeneration programmes.

Emphasis added by Leeds HMO Lobby


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