HMO Zone Confusion
Confusion reigns as the Labour Party continues to give mixed signals regarding the new Area of Housing Mix (AHM) proposals that are designed to stop further conversions of family homes into Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO).
Under the previous Liberal Democrat administration Newcastle City Council gave notice of its intention to make an Article 4 Direction across eight wards in the city, which includes parts of High West Jesmond. This means that landlords must seek planning permission to convert family homes into Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). This will preserve the current mix of long term residents, professionals, families and students. The direction is due to come into force on 25th November 2011.
However at the September council meeting East Gosforth Lib Dem councillor Henry Gallagher asked the Labour cabinet member responsible if he supported the proposals. His response was very encouraging. He said he was in favour and that the zone would come into effect as planned.
Henry also asked about the status of Beatty Avenue, Sturdee Gardens and Keyes Gardens. The residents of those streets collected a petition asking to be included in the next tranche of streets to be added to the AHM. Again the cabinet member said he was in favour of expansion.
However two days later at a scrutiny panel attended by Councillor Peter Leggott a report on the issue seemed to contradict the previous answers. The report detailed how a Deputy Cabinet Member has committed to a "wide consultation" before implementing the current article 4 direction. Views will be considered before implementation. Furthermore the Council's officers are still waiting for a direction from the Cabinet Member to confirm that the article 4 zone will go ahead as planned.
Councillor David Slesenger said, "This could be terrible news for our area. We have had years of consultation, planning, legal arguments and court cases which eventually led to the AHM being finalized. Now Labour are saying they want to consult again. Councillor Peter Leggott also voiced his concerns, "The High West Jesmond Residents Association, of which I am a member, presented a petition to council on behalf of the residents of Keyes, Sturdee and Beatty. We thought our main concern was to get those streets added to the AHM. We never thought we would be battling to preserve the whole scheme."
We promise we will take the fight to Labour to get the AHM proposals adopted on time on 25th November. After that we will continue to challenge them in order to have Sturdee Gardens, Keyes Gardens and Beatty Avenue added to the AHM.
What do you think? Are you in favour or against the AHM proposals? Is your street not currently included but you would like it to be? Let us know your views......