Community Engagement Views on HMOs

In the May/June 2015 Community Engagement conducted by the Neighbourhood Plan Stakeholder Group information on the community views of HMO issues was collected. The initial questions were carefully drafted not to point specifically to student HMOs but to the identification of ‘any areas of Falmouth where the balance of the community or character of the area are at risk of being harmed by changes in accommodation and occupancy type’.

Respondents were asked to score what aspects did they think harm the character of the area? Choices were parking conflict, care and maintenance of buildings, conflicting hours of activity, refuse storage, care and maintenance of gardens and communal areas, and other issues.

Respondents were also asked whether they would support the principle of an Article 4 direction that would control the spread of houses of multiple occupation in Falmouth.

Those replying to the question on whether there are areas affected by HMOs was 696 (53.2%). Of those commenting on which aspects were affected, 91% said that community balance was harmed, and 81% said the character of the area had been harmed.

With regard to the main areas where the problems associated with student HMOs are most experienced, clear ‘hot-spots’ such as Marlborough Road, Trelawney Rd, Budock Terrace, Albany Road, Kiligrew Street, Trevethan Road, Wood Lane, Old Hill, New Street, and Lister Street came through. These correlated well with the known distribution from the January 2015 CC Survey.

Respondents also identified individual streets all across the town, and 25% said the whole town was affected. There would not seem to be any areas which are perceived as being immune to the pressure for subdivision into HMOs. The fact that 826 (63% of all respondents) expressed support the A4D also suggests it’s a fairly widely recognised issue, and that those so far not affected fear that the issue will spread to their areas.

Some 659 respondents (50.4%) answered the question on the issues involved, scoring each (on a Likert scale where 1 is low level of harm and 5 is high level). The result is a weighted average for each issue as follows:

  • Care and maintenance of gardens etc: 4.2
  • Care and maintenance of buildings: 4.1
  • Conflicting hours of activity: 3.9
  • Refuse storage 3.9
  • Parking conflict 3.8

Comments added to these responses add some further detail, referring to the seagull problem from unmanaged refuse areas, damaged or missing curtains which add a sense of dereliction, general littering, and proliferation of letting boards.

Some 1069 (81.7%) respondents answered the question ‘would you support an A4D?’ Of these 77.3% were in favour of the A4D.

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