Praise for motion on Stevenage bedsits after hundreds sign petition calling for action
PUBLISHED: 07:11 21 January 2016
A campaigner who helped lead a petition to stop a rise in the number of family homes in Stevenage being converted into bedsits has praised the borough council for taking action.
Mike McCrow started the petition – which went on to amass more than 850 signatures before officially closing last week – after work began to convert the house next door to where he lives in Burns Close into bedsits.
In 2010 a law was passed which means that landlords do not need planning permission to turn a house with up to six occupants who share at least one facility into bedsits – known as Houses of Multiple Occupation.
This can be overruled by an Article 4 Direction, which means houses in an area must be used as family homes.
Mike, 73, submitted a petition alongside others to Stevenage Borough Council raising concerns about the impact bedsits have been having on the community and calling on the local authority to make a direction – because without one it is powerless to stop houses being converted.
During a full council meeting a motion was submitted by Liberal Democrat councillor Andy McGuinness and seconded by fellow party colleagues Robin Parker and Graham Snell.
The motion, which was passed, said: “This council is concerned about the increase in the number of Houses of Multiple Occupation in Stevenage and recommends appropriate evidence gathering and consultations are carried out to enable the council to fully consider if one or more Article 4 directions for parts of Stevenage should be imposed.”
Speaking about the steps taken, Mike said: “I’m not wholly against HMOs, but this petition was about regulating them.
“I’m really pleased that so many people supported the petition and what we found was that people were aware of the issue in their own area, but not that this was a problem across the whole of the town.
“There was a cross-party discussion and it was handled really well – there was no political point scoring.
“The three Liberal Democrat councillors – Robin Parker, Graham Snell and Andy McGuinness – as well as council leader Sharon Taylor were particularly supportive and I thank them all for their help.”