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Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
Balanced Communities or
News Release, 5 March 2008
Will the government get it right this time? Will they honour their
commitment to creating sustainable communities? Or will they allow
a new generation of universities to destabilise yet more communities
through studentification? Those who suffered the first time round
are challenging the government to get it right!
Creating Sustainable Communities was the motto of the
old ODPM. Its policies on sustainable communities have been inherited
by Communities & Local Government. But a major saboteur of sustainability
in university towns was the expansion of higher education, and the
appropriation of whole communities for student housing - or studentification.
Now John Denham, Minister for Universities, has announced plans
for twenty more universities. Will these have the same impact?
There is some cause for optimism. The government has agreed to
consider planning legislation which will allow local councils greater
control over shared houses (whether or not occupied by students).
The whole private rented sector is under review, with particular
attention to the role of student housing. And John Denham, before
his elevation as Minister, said, "It is the reality that, if
there are areas in which the concentration of student housing is
very great, there cannot be a balanced and sustainable community."
That there are problems is acknowledged by both Universities UK
and by NUS. Both have published guides on how to respond to these
problems - though both are inadequate, because neither recognises
the reality of the problems. Now the National HMO Lobby, representing
the local communities at the sharp end, is publishing its own contribution
to the debate, a new paper on Balanced Communities & Studentification.
This publication is innovative in three ways. First, for the first
time, it offers a workable definition of 'balanced community', the
essential pre-requisite for a sustainable community - that is, a
balanced community is one that approximates national demographic
norms - it's a community that everyone recognises as relatively
normal. Secondly, it offers a definition and analysis of studentification
- which is where a local community is substituted by a student community
- and all this entails. Finally, it offers a Ten Point Plan, to
address the real roots of the existing problems - or to prevent
them arising in the first place. The Lobby endorses the policy proposal
recommended by Dr Julie Rugg (who is conducting the PRS Review)
that "a housing strategy should be integral to the expansion
plans of every HEI, and comprise an analysis of likely impacts on
the local rental market and consultation with local community groups."
The National HMO Lobby's Balanced Communities & Studentification
will be formally launched at the Conference Agenda for Change
held by the Councillors Campaign for Balanced Communities in Nottingham
on 13 March 2008.
Contact: Dr Richard Tyler, Co-ordinator, National
HMO Lobby, email@example.com
1. The National HMO Lobby is a network of over fifty local community
groups in thirty or more towns throughout the UK, concerned with
the impact of concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
on their communities; see http://hmolobby.org.uk/index.htm.
The Councillors Campaign for Balanced Communities is a network of
these communities' elected representatives in local government.
In national government, their elected representatives have established
the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sustainable & Balanced
2. Balanced Communities & Studentification is attached.
It is also available online at http://hmolobby.org.uk/39articles.pdf.
Printed copies are available from Dr Tyler.
3. See Universities UK, Studentification: a guide to opportunities,
challenges and practice (2006); the Lobby's response is at
4. See National Union of Students, Students in the Community:
Working together to achieve harmony (2007); the Lobby's response
is at http://hmolobby.org.uk/nusstudentsincommunity.htm
5. CLG's policies on sustainable communities are at http://www.communities.gov.uk/communities/sustainablecommunities/
6. See DIUS, A New University Challenge at http://www.info4local.gov.uk/documents/publications/709617;
also, Jo Revill, 'Plans for 20 new university towns, Observer,
2 March 2008, at http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,2261433,00.html
7. The Private Rented Sector Review was announced in January. A
Policy Round Table on Student Housing was held on 4 March. The Lobby's
submission is at http://hmolobby.org.uk/prsreview08.htm
8. John Denham's comment was made in a debate on Balanced &
Sustainable Communities, Westminster Hall, 5 June 2007.
9. The CCBC Conference is organised by Unipol Student Homes.
National HMO Lobby