Minutes of the Hanover and Elm Grove Local Action Team meeting held at the Hanover public house on Monday 26th September 2011
Present: Cllr Matt Follett chaired the meeting. Also attending: Cllr Liz Wakefield, Jugal Sharma , Lead Commissioner Housing, Martin Reid Head of Housing Strategy, Liz Hobden (Planning), Austen Hunter (Transport), PCSO Dawn Kitson, Andy Keeffe (Brighton University Community Liaison), Simon Bannister (Environment Improvements) and Tony Baker (Environment improvements). About 60 residents attended for the first item of the meeting and this number dropped to about 20 for the remainder of the meeting.
Apologies: Cllr Bill Randall, Anna Hunter, Kevin Mannall.
1. Parking ban on Elm Grove paved areas
Because a large number of people attended to discuss parking on Elm Grove, Cllr Follett discussed this matter first. He began by announcing that he had met with the lead councillor for transport prior to the meeting and it had been agreed to halt the introduction of enforcement of pavement parking there for a period of about 3 months whilst alternative options were explored. He suggested that during this period a working group concentrating on this issue, comprising residents, officers and councillors, be set up to find a solution. He said that it is a complicated issue and there are many views both from people who see the parking there as obstructing pedestrians and others who think it provides vital local parking. He reminded the meeting that the Council has to make cuts each year for the next four years but he would explore possible sources of funding in case proper parking bays could be provided. About 25 residents spoke and the following are a cross-section of views and suggestions:
- Cars park too close to the houses and obstruct parents with buggies
- Bollards make the matter worse as cars manoeuvre behind them
- The Council should have consulted residents before it imposed this ban
- Enforcing obstruction, cars for sale and traffic offences would go a long way to solving the problem without a total ban
- These paved areas used to be grassed and people have parked there for many years. The yellow lines were put there to keep people off the roads and onto the paving
- Like it or not people rely on cars so any measures must not hinder the lives of residents and should assist local businesses
- Consultation and communication are key
- HMO’s are a linked issue because some houses have large numbers of car owners
- If parking was permitted at the Level it would ease parking in Elm Grove
- Chevron parking would achieve more spaces
- CPZ’s in other areas impact on this area
PCSO Dawn Kitson reminded residents that they could report any poor driving to the police (Operation Crackdown). The Councillors present thanked everyone for their comments and promised that everyone could be involved in finding solutions. A list of those who wanted to be involved in the working group was passed around.
2. Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s)
The meeting was then addressed by Martin Reid who is head of the Council’s Housing Strategy Team. He explained that the number of students is expected to grow and already there is insufficient purpose built housing for them. This does lead to the proliferation of HMO’s in certain areas, hence the Council is looking to change the requirement for landlords to seek permission for an HMO down from 3 stories to two. Landlords pay about £600 to licence a HMO and this lasts for 5 years. Wilf Nichols asked why the number of HMO’s registered is falling: is it because they are not re-registering? Martin suggested that it might be because re-registering takes time so until they are re-registered the number may dip. He asked anyone who knew that a landlord was not registerd to report it. Wilf asked if licensing enforcement or planning enforcement was most effective if an HMO was causing neighbours a problem? Martin said both are useful. Andy Keeffe, Community Liaison from Brighton University confirmed how effective the HMO team could be. Martin said that landlords are prosecuted if they break the rules so licencing does help to improve the way HMO landlords manage their properties.
Liz Hobden then explained that the Planning Department is carrying out work to quantify and locate HMO’s so as to justify the introduction of an Article Four Direction, which would force landlord’s to apply for planning permission to create a HMO and said that there might be a cap of 10% per street. At present a few streets have as many as 40% HMO’s and although the legislation would not be retrospective this action might prevent further proliferation in areas with large numbers of student houses. She said that if the Council agrees to go ahead it will still take about another 12 months before it could be introduced. In answer to a question, Liz said that it is difficult to refuse planning permission to a landlord who has committed misdemeanours with other properties because the permission relates to the property not the person.
3. Minutes of the last meeting These were agreed as an accurate record.
4. Matter arising from the minutes
i) Tony Baker reported that the Cityclean communal bin pilot will go ahead and Cllr Follett said it would include Coleman and Washington Streets.
ii) Tony reported that Planning Enforcement are in the process of dealing with the wasteland just down Southover Street from the Greys.
5. Police report
PCSO Dawn Kitson reported that the main issue had been the parking ban at Elm Grove and the police would like to be consulted about possible changes.
6. Any other business
i) Christina Pepper reported that the Hanover Action for Sustainable Living is holding a meeting on Saturday 8th October from 3pm in the Hanover Community Centre with exhibition and refreshments and Cllr Bill Randall answering questions on the Council’s plans for sustainability.
ii) Simon Bannister reminded people to use the Hanover and Elm Grove LAT website: www.heglat.wordpress.com where they will find useful information.
iii) A resident said that there needs to be yellow lines on Southover St above the Greys to allow buses to pass.
iv) Andy Carslake said that cable ties on lampposts could be dangerous. ACTION: Matt Follett agreed to contact Damien Marmura about how to have these removed.
v) Brian Ravenett raised the issue of the telephone mast on Beaufort Terrace and Matt agreed to see him after the meeting.
vi) A resident suggested that a separate LAT should be set-up for Elm Grove. ACTION: Matt said this would be on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting.
vii) Students in the Community meetings- Matt said he was in the process of setting up a broader group.
7. Date of next meeting: Monday 28th November 7pm