Norwich City Council Cabinet have said they will delay a decision on a motion to limit shared housing in the Golden Triangle. If the council decided to implement Article 4, local landlords would need planning permission from the council before converting a property into a household of multiple occupancy (HMO). HMOs are defined as residencies housing three or more biologically unrelated occupants who are communal facilities like kitchens and bathrooms, causing the issue to concern students. Article 4 would place a limit on the number of HMOs in the city’s Golden Triangle, as well as other areas of Norwich.
An increase in anti-social behaviour in the Golden Triangle, which holds a high number of shared houses including student properties, had brought the issue to the council’s agenda.
Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat city councillor, said that she was concerned about the number of shared houses and spoke of residents describing “people having different lifestyles to them, people staying up late at night and playing loud music.”
Finn Northrop, non-portfolio officer noted the restrictions placed by article 4 would “push out young professionals, who make up 70 per cent of HMOs, as well as students.” He added that the Union believes “students add to the local environment and help make Norwich the wonderful place it is to live.”
After deliberating on 14 September, members of the cabinet decided more information is required. SU Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer Jo Swo said that despite the decision being cause for celebration, the Union are “critically aware that this is not the end,” when addressing concerns about student housing.
“Too much of the debate has tended to view students as ‘others’, but both the city and county council should remember that students are their residents too. With local elections coming up in 2017 we’ll be working to get as many students registered to vote to ensure that local decision makers treat students as residents in the future.”
Commenting on the wider implications of student numbers growth at UEA, SU Campaigns and Democracy Officer Amy Rust said: “With UEA in the middle of a plan to grow student numbers, the Article 4 debate has highlighted how under prepared the University and local area is for a growing student population. The danger is that services will struggle to cope and rents will rise to unaffordable levels. We all know students who’ve failed to find a seat in a seminar or been unable to find space on campus for revising at exam time- and the danger is that Norwich as a city will struggle too.”
“That’s why we’re now calling on the University to get round the table with students, the council and local services to make sure there’s a proper plan to cope with increased student numbers, both on and off campus- with proper investment in the infrastructure and facilities needed to protect UEA’s lauded student experience and relieve pressure on wider community.”