‘Don’t scapegoat students’ plea to neighbourhood

February 27 2015

A STUDENT representative has hit back at a letter from a resident which urged neighbours to oppose the development of student accommodation in Redland.

A STUDENT representative has hit back at a letter from a resident which urged neighbours to oppose the development of student accommodation in Redland.

The letter, which was headlined "Say NO to more student houses", was sent out in early February and called on local residents to object to the redevelopment of a property in Alexandra Park.

Tom Phipps, a student living officer of the University of Bristol, posted a photograph of the letter on Twitter, saying that scapegoating students for all problems only makes tensions worse.

He told Bishopston Voice: "We were saddened to see this anti-student leaflet go out in Redland.

"Residents should be directing their anger towards the university and its expansion over the past few years rather than students who struggle year on year to find decent affordable places to live.

"Students bring a great deal to the local community, whether that is thousands of hours volunteered or hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for charitable causes - the city wouldn't be the same without them.

"We want to work together to break down the barriers that exist between students and other members of the community."

The application to redevelop Penmaen House - on the junction where Chandos Road, Fair View Drive and Alexandra Park meet - was submitted in November and proposes to develop the property into two units, with a total of 11 bedrooms.

The property currently accommodates nine people. The online application from developers Aspect360 had received over 100 objections by the February 16 deadline.

Bristol City Council's development control committee was due to consider the application on February 25, after Bishopston Voice went to print. Planning officers were recommending approval.

Cynthia Chapman, a local resident who objected to the application, said: "As an elderly neighbour, I would like to object to the planning application.

"This development would increase the number of students already living in close proximity to my house. The increase in disruption late at night when the students are here is enormous. There is loud shouting, doors banging and taxis blowing their horns.

"Another problem associated with large groups of young people is the rubbish they produce.

"This is supposed to be a conservation area, this proposed building is ugly and will detract from the Victorian surroundings."

Roger Mortimer, from the Redland and Cotham Amenities Society, said: "RCAS's concern about the continued increase in the studentification of Redland and Cotham is well known.

"We do not accept that two houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) in the same building would reduce the risk of nuisance from the present situation – particularly when the total number of residents is increased.

"Increasing the landlord’s return on a property by £6,000 to £8,000 is a major incentive to intensify the numbers in a student HMO. Any increase in value of houses in the area puts them further out of reach of those who are not student landlords."

Kirsty Honor, a local resident who supported the application, said: "We are a family and have lived in a street for over 12 years, that houses a large number of students. It is reflective of our growing and changing society needs, and should be supported accordingly."