15 November 2018
Green Party Councillors have led a campaign to ensure that Shropshire Unitary Council reject a planning application that would see a family home in Ferrers Road, and on the edge of the Oswestry conservation area, turned into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) with 11 bedsits sharing just two small kitchens.
Local resident and campaigner Anne Grovestock-Thompson alerted Duncan Kerr, Mike Isherwood and Olly Rose her local Green Party Town Councillors, after seeing a site notice. With the support of the local resident’s association a public meeting was quickly organised with over 100 people packing the local Black Lion pub. Here they received a briefing note, prepared by Duncan, and summarising the planning policies that this application would contravene and how to object.
Two days later over 50 local people attended the Oswestry Town Council meeting where Anne Grovestock-Thompson spoke on behalf of residents and Duncan Kerr moved the unanimously supported motion calling on Shropshire Council to reject this application.
Duncan said "It is a sad indictment of our current housing shortage that we have landlords seeking to exploit the vulnerable by offering housing conditions that are the human equivalent of battery cages. Tenants would have just a bed-sitting room and use of a kitchen with just one cooker and sink shared with another four or five people they don’t know. Apart from that there is no amenity space in the house and very little garden area either. Research shows that the risk of death from fire in such properties is six times that of a singly occupied house. HMOs are not just unhealthy for their occupants the over intensity of this occupation can put strain on local amenities and may cause issue of noise and disturbance for surrounding families".
"In investigating this issue it has become clear that the amenity standards of Shropshire Council are deficient because they do not specify minimum sizes for bedrooms and create a loop-hole where landlords can reduce the number of kitchen they provide by imposing a condition that no tenant can have any partner living with them. This is a huge intrusion into the right to a family life under the UN convention and we are also calling on Shropshire Council to improve its HMO standards".
Shropshire Council is expected to determine the application in December.