One of the main problems in this area is that a large number of very small and unsuitable houses and shops are being turned into flats without the required planning permissions or into houses in multiple occupation. Thankfully Selective Licensing has helped with this in the designated area (if the Licensing authorities have the full information) but outside this area landlords are doing what they like with properties, changing the essential character of the area from family homes into little more than hostels for those needing temporary accommodation or accommodation for people leaving prison, alcohol or drug programmes and the area does not have the resources to cope.
We know that these kind of challenging tenants have to be housed, we only ask why such a large proportion of them, 34% of the total, have to be housed in East End Park and Cross Green.
In one case in the Clarks a landlord changed a shop into a flat without permission and left the shutters in place so that the change would not be noticed. He was being paid Housing Allowance by the council for the two properties since they had obviously not checked to see if there should be two flats there. It was also obvious that they had not checked the state of the accommodation provided either because when the Senior Environmental Health Officer, Private Rented Sector Housing Team, called in by COVEN on behalf of the tenant, inspected the flats he served notices to repair the property. They were then assessed by an independent consultant employed by the tenant’s solicitor who said the property would not be classed as a decent home and exhibits many HAZARDS as defined by the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System as detailed in the Housing Act 2004. This property is still the subject of legal proceedings by the tenant but the landlord has applied for and been granted permission to change the property into two flats – it really does seem that if you have the brass neck you can get anything you want!The two latest shops wanting to become flats are 250 York Road and 34 Raincliffe Road. Both these properties have applied for retrospective planning permission for the change of use so once again the area loses the chance of a local business and ends up with more people shoehorned into properties that were not designed for that level of occupation. The area is bursting at the seams, when will it end?
Besides these two properties 248 York Road, with the same landlord as 250 and 210 York Road is now being occupied as a flat upstairs and a flat in the shop despite the owner telling the Planning authorities that it would be returned to its original use and the Planning Enforcement then agreeing to close the file. Again the landlord thinks no one will notice or report it to the authorities, well he is wrong. This area used to be, and could be again a good area of family housing where decent people raise their kids and build a community and we will do our best to give it a chance to do that but at the moment the area has not the infrastructure to cope with this level of intensive occupation of properties. The noise, traffic, services in the area cannot cope with the extra households.
We do not need tiny flats for people to occupy on short term lets we need decent family homes for people who want to come into our area, put down roots and build a future for themselves and the community.