OPINION

Loss of family homes in Coldean causes residents concern

Posted On 23 Apr 2022 at 12:01 am

Coldean Neighbourhood Planning Forum has undertaken consultations with the community and identified the loss of family homes and their conversion to HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) as an issue of concern locally.

It has affected local school places in recent years.

We have carried out local research after we heard claims that mainly business people or tenants other than students were living in the HMOs.

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We found this from our research to be untrue. Nearly all the HMOs in Coldean are taken up by students.

We have also noted at the recent council planning meeting that another claim was made that there were more HMOs in Hanover than Coldean which was again untrue.

We were very disappointed that the council approved the application for an HMO in Talbot Crescent despite there being strong local opposition.

Owing to a very large and ongoing building programme by Sussex University and Brighton University, HMOs are unlikely to continue to be in demand, with plentiful good-quality on-campus accommodation increasingly available.

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This seems therefore a good point at which to refuse further planning applications for HMOs – not least with many HMOs in Coldean empty and unrented.

The Coldean Neighbourhood Planning Forum would like to ask: “When will the council realise that we have enough student accommodation and HMOs in the city for students and change its planning policies accordingly?”

Patrick Lowe is the chairman of the Coldean Neighbourhood Planning Forum.

  1. Mark Horeman Reply

    Well you can’t just blame HMO’s. There is a lot of council family housing which is under occupied in coldean and surrounding estates. Maybe ask some questions to the council about why do the allow single occupancy in family homes. Also is this same forum that was objecting to new council homes being built on coldean lane!

    • Deborah Yuill Reply

      Mark, this is not the ‘same Forum’ that was objecting to the development on Coldean Woods. Coldean Neighbourhood Planning Forum was only established in July last year, by which point the construction of ‘Bluebell Heights’ on ancient woodland was already well under way. There are problems with that development, in particular in relation to car parking, road access, safe walking and crossing routes and the destruction of rare chalk grassland.
      That’s one reason why some local residents got together to create the Coldean Neighbourhood Planning Forum, which is a body established by statute. It gives Coldean’s residents more of a say in what happens in their area.
      Finally, it’s hard to see how a council could prevent ‘single occupancy’ of private homes. There’s currently no law to enforce that, and it’s difficult to see how any such law could be implemented if there were.

      • Bevendean Resident Reply

        Guess you not lived round here for long. The “Bluebell Heights” is being built in a field, not an ancient woodland. That has been a field way back to Victorians and probably before. Check a map. This is housing for people to live in. Your NIMBY type are worrying with your selective editing of reality.

  2. Dave Reply

    For some reason, that makes no sense. There is no Claus that says if you rent a family council house that once your family have grown up and moved out that you should move to more suitable accommodation I.E a 1 or two bed apartment to free up that house for a new family to occupy and enjoy. Instead you have this weird situation where you have couples in their 60s in large 3 bedroom council housing and families with 2/3 kids living in 2 bedroom flats. Baby boomer generation attitudes mean they will never downsize so it should be part of the housing contract. Blaming it all on students is a nonsense, however the council should be flat out refusing HMOs in places like Moulsecoomb, bevingdean and coldean and offering to buy back these houses for families to occupy. But that will never happen as it takes a bit of leadership… They should also look to enlarge these estates

    • Deborah Yuill Reply

      Dave, I don’t think anyone is blaming students, who after all are just looking for somewhere affordable to live for a few years while they are studying. The problem comes when too many family homes are bought up by absentee landlords, who then submit planning applications to convert them to HMOs for rental. Too many of those in an area creates a social imbalance, as we have seen in Bevendean and Moulsecoomb, and the same is now happening in Coldean. It’s also a huge problem for local democracy, since many students will continue to vote in their ‘home’ area, and (understandably) have limited interest in what happens in their temporary home.
      An increase in HMOs also means lower revenues of Council tax, particularly if the HMOs stand empty for any length of time. That means long-term residents have to shoulder more of the tax burden.
      There’s an impact on schools too, since fewer families in an area means fewer children, and therefore falling school rolls. Coldean has a wonderful primary school, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, but how much longer can it survive without an influx of children?
      I think buying back homes and making them available at reasonable rent to families is a great idea and would love to see Brighton and Hove Council take this up.

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