‘People are moving out’ – Concern over growing number of bedsits in Stevenage’s Great Ashby area
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A significant number of family homes which have been converted into bedsits are destroying Stevenage’s Great Ashby community and creating a parking nightmare – it has been claimed.
A law was passed in 2010 which means landlords do not need planning permission to turn a house with up to six occupants who share at least one facility into bedsits.
People living in Great Ashby say this lack of planning control has led to a high concentration of ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ in the area, causing an unsustainable pressure on parking and destabilising the community – since there is no sense of ownership.
One resident said: “I have three HMOs in my road and parking is a nightmare. We were never consulted, as obviously there was no outward changes to the houses.”
Terry Tyler, who is a member of Great Ashby Community Council, says personally he is not against HMOs if the parking and their concentration is taken into account.
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He said: “Where I live, more than 50 per cent of the houses are HMOs. There’s no sense of community and there’s also a parking problem. The shape of the community has been changed for the worse.
“A friend and neighbour moved to Scotland because she couldn’t take it anymore. People do move out because of it.”
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About one third of Great Ashby is under Stevenage Borough Council, while the rest is North Herts District Council.
Last month, following a petition, the Comet reported that the borough council had resolved to carry out a consultation to consider one or more Article 4 Direction – which override the 2010 HMO law and mean houses must be used as family homes.
Councillor Tyler is concerned that the North Herts part of Great Ashby will be ‘bombarded’ with HMOs if the district council doesn’t follow suit.
He added: “The Great Ashby Community Council is undertaking actions to work with NHDC councillors to support changes to the district council’s HMO planning regulations and also actions to work jointly with Stevenage Borough Council in its research and work to limit further HMOs and ensure a high density of HMOs in any one street is avoided in future.”
Councillor Bernard Lovewell, responsible for housing at the district council, said: “Home owners do not require planning permission to change the use of a house to a small HMO with six or fewer occupants.
“The council is working hard to identify HMOs within North Herts to ensure they meet fire safety and amenity standards and are adequately managed.
“We do not, however, have powers to refuse a licence application on the basis that there are other existing HMOs in the vicinity.”