500 signatures reached
To: Bath and North East Somerset Council
Address the crisis related to student numbers in Bath
This petition is not an attack on students, but it does call on our Council to do more to tackle problems caused by the ever increasing influx of students to Bath.
The Council must either use the powers that it has, or lobby the Government for greater powers to resolve these problems.
The comments below use Twerton as a case in point, but the issues raised are true for other communities as well.
Why is this important?
Many Bath residents are dismayed to see more and more homes being converted into HMOs (houses of multiple occupation) for students. This results in a loss of housing suitable for families and contributes to rising house prices.
It's true that the Council recently introduced a 10% cap on the proportion of homes that can be turned into HMOs in any area. However, this is little solace for communities like Twerton where residents see family houses lost to HMOs sometimes on a weekly basis.
Twerton is one area where we are witnessing a loss of family homes close to services such as nurseries and schools that were set up to support families. It means that more and more families have to travel in to use those services - as family homes are turned into accommodation for students who have no need for such services.
To quote the Bath Preservation Trust in regard to schools:
"Schools are usually at the heart of local neighbourhoods, where people gather and make friends, where community events happen and community spirit is nurtured. It makes no sense for family houses around a school to be populated by transient tenants, when it is clearly so much more appropriate that the housing is retained for those who would benefit by living close to their child's school. Nor is it sensible to push families beyond walking distance, so that unnecessary car journeys are required, increasing congestion.
"In the recent HMO policy review, we did ask for proximity to school to be taken into account in planning decisions but this was ignored."
(Bath Preservation Trust in Twerton & Whiteway News, Spring edition, at: https://tinyurl.com/y8zq5g55 .)
A second issue lies with the student blocks that arise wherever there is available space for development. In Twerton the string of tall student blocks along the Lower Bristol Road is considered ugly and overpowering - and now there is pressure to have student blocks at the Jews Lane site and the Mercy in Action warehouse as well.
In April this year, Bath City FC sparked protest by unveiling proposals to build a five storey student block at Twerton Park which would loom horribly above the High Street. Although a reduction in height is expected in the forthcoming plans, there are only limited grounds to oppose inappropriate developments such as these.
Residents feel angry that sites which could be developed for social or family housing, are prioritised towards students in the pursuit of greater profits. Any Council that has the interests of the people at heart should oppose this injustice.
Clearly there is a case for saying that more student accommodation should be built on campus. But now we learn that the University of Bath has got the go-ahead to instead build a new teaching complex that will draw yet more students in. The situation has become ridiculous and many Bath residents now feel at the mercy of greedy universities and developers.
We acknowledge that: a) Students make a contribution to Bath and b) HMOs are important to people who are unable to get a foothold on the property ladder.