MINUTES of the Hanover & Elm Grove LAT meeting
5th October 2015
[All Actions to be taken from the meeting are shown throughout in bold]
Present (as recorded on attendance list):
Chris Taylor (Chair); David Hearn (Secretary); Huw Jones; Carol & Peter Homewood; Helen Macintyre; Rob Bishop; Elaine Elliott; Steve and Pam Chapman; Catriona Lane; Helen Longton-Hanorth; James Hewland; Katy Fredricksson; Andrew & Patricia Smith; Brian Ravenett; S.Trew; Danny Carter; Christina Pepper; Rick McEwen; Scott Amerson; Toxi Doyle; Dec Brown-Whenan; Roxana Bathana; Andrew Carslake; Isabel Conway; Gill Perkins; Annette Bell; John Pomeroy; Veronica Symans; Paul Norman; Robert Dawes; Jane Zacharzewski; Grace Loseby and Gary Collins (BHCC); Councillor (Cllr) Emma Daniels; Cllr David Gibson; Cllr Tracey Hill; Charles Dudley and Dan Spears (University of Sussex).
N.B. attendees who do not ‘sign’ the attendance list are not recorded.
The Chair invited all attendees to the meeting.
Cllr Dick Page, Tim Read, local PCSO’s and Valentina Gonzalez sent their apologies.
- Minutes and matters arising:
Attendees accepted the minutes of 0th July without objection.
- To Let Boards – following Caroline Lynch’s information at the last HEGLAT meeting, the Chair reported very effective response from Council once notice of a To Let board on Hanover Street was reported. He urged those present to report matters to the Council team where these occur.
- Horse and Groom Planning Application – the Chair reported that the application to convert the Horse and Groom from drinking establishment (A4) to financial services (A2) had been refused. With the subsequent registration of the property as an Asset of Community Value, the applicant now had an obligation to reinstate the ground floor area for lease or freehold as a licensed venue and work to refit the ground floor was understood to be taking place. Some residents reported overhearing plans for a music cafe on the site. As an Asset of Community Value, it would appear that the community would have first option on any new arrangement.
- Tim Read from BHCC Community Safety Team
Apologies were accepted from Tim Read. Grace Loseby was in attendance as a replacement but had no matters to report at this time. She looked forward to listening to the issues raised by residents at this meeting.
Action: The Chair agreed to include the agenda item at the next HEGLAT meeting in December.
- Charles Dudley and Dean Spears University of Sussex (UoS) Student Housing
The Chair welcomed Charles Dudley (CD) and Dean Spears (DS) to the HEGLAT forum which provided the University with the opportunity to update all residents on the university’s plans and developments for student housing.
CD confirmed Council approvals had been given for the University Campus Masterplan. Priorities included re-development of the East Slope (590 beds to 2,000 beds) and extensive changes to the Life Sciences estate. In addition discussions were on going with BHCC on an area of Residual land at Falmer with opportunity for a further 800 beds. Other developments included North Field development (1100 beds) and successful conversion and operation of the old Co-Op building on London Road providing 350 beds. University data showed that 20% of university students lived at home with a further 7% living in accommodation either provided for them by parents or guardians. With these developments the University was confident and committed to housing all first year students in campus accommodation.
CD informed the meeting that the UoS and the City Council had a good working relationship and was an active partner in a number of working groups (Strategic Housing Partnership) with the Council and with Cllr Tracey Hill who lead on the City Council’s private sector brief).
CD invited residents the opportunity to hold a future meeting at the campus to understand the University’s plans and given the setting and local planning constraints, consider the range of improvements being provided.
DS updated the meeting on the work taking place in the community. This included:
- An English language support programme for 50 Syrian Refugees
- Advice/Support Guidance information developed with the Council on housing matters
- Annual Housing Fayre (February)
- A ‘Living in the City’ guide – to be distributed by Letting Agents on signing of all new student tenancy agreements.
Future work in development included:
- Text message reminders on recycling and rubbish collection days
- Lewes Road off campus shop – (opening mid November) providing opportunity for resident and student drop in service.
Residents can contact the University via:
Tel: 01273 678220
The Char opened the discussion to the group. A large range of views were expressed and a summary of the main points is included below:
- Corporate and ethical responsibility of UoS on student impact on local communities – a number of residents questioned the UoS approach to communities like HEGLAT where over concentration of students was clearly a growing problem. Whilst the universities strategic expansion benefitted the university, the resources being expended by the university on dealing with the impact of its plans on the Council and resident communities was not commensurate with its growth and should be addressed. It was considered that true partnership working with the Council would see the University allocate more resources to the area.
- Clarification of student numbers living in communities in Lewes and Brighton and living on campus. A number of residents wanted to understand more on the actual numbers of students living in and off campus and the rationale the University uses to direct these to either Brighton or Lewes.
- Unexpected delays experienced when reporting student concerns – the situation at one property in Brading Road was a particular concern and despite being reported to the Council and the University had still not been resolved. At the meeting CD assured the resident that the matter would be resolved as a top priority.
- The lack of resources available to local Council officers that hinders effective measures to deal with licensing casework and inspection regimes.
- Vagaries of the Article 4 and HMO Licensing guidance that makes retrospective approvals in areas of high concentration more difficult to challenge.
- The growth of unregulated businesses like buy to let properties that permits landlords of HMO properties letting to students, from making any form of contribution to Council tax.
- More integrated working between UoS, University of Brighton, and other colleges and educational institutions that place students in communities.
- Other comments raised by residents included:-
- Name plaques to be placed on properties – “This Property is let by…”
- A coordinated campaign of leaflet drops to students of both UoS and UoB
- UoS to deploy trained and experienced housing officers at the new Lewes Road off site shop.
- Top managers at UoS to be invited to visit the area to see firsthand the HEGLAT resident experience
Cllr Daniels, Gibson and Hill encouraged residents to continue to report details of any unlicensed HMO’s to Council for follow up where they find them. Cllr Gibson also provided brief details on a pilot project taking place at Newhaven Street to measure the impact of density of HMO’s in the area. It was hoped that the information arising from the project would help inform future decisions.
Recent steps taken by the University, the Council and offers which were welcomed included:
- UoS taking on head leases of properties and acting as landlords – currently 70 properties and plans to increase to 140.
- Work done by Cllr Daniels on dealing with particular matters raised by residents
- Support received from Brighton Letting Agency following resident complaint.
CD thanked the meeting for their frank and honest feedback and would look to provide a response and/or action plan in response to the matters raised by residents. He would look to report back to the group at a future meeting.
Action: The Chair requested that the matter of Brading Road be resolved as a matter of priority and that Charles and Dean would be invited back to update residents in due course.
- Police Report
The Chair reported that Sian Davis (PCSO) had provided an incident summary of reported matters covering the period July-October. Whilst the numbers of incidences were relatively small, the main areas highlighted included noise, anti social behaviour and vehicle crime.
Details of the report from Sian will be posted to the HEGLAT website under the Local Police tab.
Action: Secretary to post information on HEGLAT website.
- Community Street Welcome Letters on website.
The Chair provided information on a template leaflet recently developed to welcome new neighbours. The leaflet builds on work done by residents at Montreal Road and included useful information for all those new to Hanover and Elm Grove. Whilst the template was based on those living at Hanover Street it could be quickly updated for other streets. Feedback from new residents who had received the leaflet in Hanover Street welcomed the information. Attendees can view the pdf version of template on the HEGALT website.
Some ideas received from the meeting to improve the take up and awareness of the leaflet and what residents are doing included:
- Post information to Facebook Page
- Include information in future copy of Hanover Directory
- Press Release information to The Argus
Action: Those residents interested in using the template are encouraged to contact the Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Valentina Gonzalez – Community Organiser University of Brighton (UoB).
Apologies were received from Valentina.
Information was received that Valentina’s role as Community Organiser was to establish a positive relationship between students and the community. To that end a meet and greet session had been organised at Carlton Hill School on Saturday 10th October between 11am-3pm. It was understood that details had been circulated in the October copy of the Hanover Directory.
Residents who would like to find out more were encouraged to attend.
Action: Residents to note the move made by UoB to establish a forum between students and residents and to note the time and date of the forthcoming meeting.
- Bus update and B&H Buswatch – news on the No.37B
The Chair requested further news on developments over the bus services. Members of the group reported the following:
- that public consultation on the 37B ends officially on 30 October. The Council is accepting comments via email or telephone. Call 01273 292480 or email to email@example.com. .
The following response was drafted by Cllr David Gibson for consideration and a vote taken. The Chair agreed to forward the information to the Council representing HEGALT resident’s feedback on the consultation.
- is concerned that the 37B is under threat;
- notes that Hanover and Elm Grove is very hilly and that our bus service is a lifeline for the community particularly our disabled residents and buggy users;
- urges the Council to retain our bus service;
- is concerned that the consultation does not appear to have included any advertisement of the consultation on the 37B service itself nor has taken the opportunity to consult directly with passengers using the bus service.
Votes cast in favour of proposal 33
No votes 0
Action: The Chair to forward the proposals to Cllr. Gill Mitchell representing HEGLAT’s feedback on the public consultation for the 37B bus service.
- Social media and Deputy Chair. The Chair agreed to continue discussions with two people who had expressed an interest and to report progress at the next meeting.
- Parking update- BHCC Committee meeting scheduled for 13 October with Cllr. Gill Mitchell confirming that the HEGLAT parking consultation would be given a high priority.
- St Lukes – Parking problems reported as being experienced to roads and pavements at school times – matter to be raised in Hanover Directory, posted on HEGLAT website, Facebook page and shared with residents of Queen’s Park LAT.
- Attendees requested that where possible further links be established with UoS senior managers in the form of a delegation of Chairs of the affected LAT’s (e.g. Coombe Road, London Road, Triangle, HEGLAT) to ensure that specific resident’s concerns are raised to the highest level for decision making.
- Residents to be made aware of the current contractor arrangements for reporting street lighting, blocked drains and abandoned bikes. Cllr. Daniels agreed to report back on these matters.
- Isabel Conway (UoS) – undertaking dissertation on the social, economic and cultural impact of students on the City was seeking to interview residents for her theses. Those interested should contact Isabel at firstname.lastname@example.org
- HEGALT residents should challenge the language being used by universities when accommodating students in so called “student areas”. The terminology should reflect the fact that these are “resident areas” and not student areas.
The meeting ended at 9.00pm.
- Date of next meeting:
It was agreed to hold the meeting on Monday 7th December at 7.00pm, at the Hanover Pub on Queens Park Rd.