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Bath house prices 'hit by cap on students' says family unable to sell



Bath house prices 'hit by cap on students' says family unable to sell
By Western Daily Press 

Bath house prices 'hit by cap on students' says family unable to sell
Councillors appealing in 2010 against the influx of students to Oldfield Park. Picture: Kevin Bates

House prices in Bath have plummeted in some areas after the introduction of rules to stop parts of the city being over-run with students, it has been claimed.

Bath and North East Somerset Council brought in the Article 4 direction in response to an outcry from residents in areas such as Oldfield Park, in the west of the city, where student lets in houses of multiple occupation (HMO) are particularly common.

However, critics say it is too late for some streets, such as Lorne Road, Oldfield Park, which already has 50 per cent of properties converted into HMOs.

Johnny Kidney, who lives in Lorne Road, Oldfield Park, says the only people interested in buying there are buy-to-let landlords – and his application to convert his home into an HMO has been recommended for refusal.

He claims the value of his home, which has previously been registered and used as an HMO, has dropped by ten per cent since the Article 4 Direction was introduced.

He said: “Applying the Article 4 Direction to Lorne Road is a classic case of locking the stable door long after the horse has bolted.

“Officers say that granting HMO consent to our home will lead to an unacceptable housing mix. I would hardly call being the only family in a sea of student house-shares an acceptable housing mix.

“We are not so much applying for planning permission, rather we are asking the council for permission to sell our house on a level playing field on the same terms on which it was purchased, and in so doing release us from this situation which has had such a negative impact on us, allowing us to get on with our lives as planned pre-Article 4.”

Councillor Ben Stevens said this was exactly what he feared would happen but he was hopeful the committee would see sense and set the precedent for these types of applications being given approval.

He said: “I wanted an exemption for these streets, but the council’s legal advice was that this would make the policy completely unworkable.

“It is not a surprise it has been recommended for refusal, because that is in line with planning policy, but clearly my hope is that the committee will see common sense and reject the officer’s recommendation and approve the application.”

Mr Stevens added that he believed Mr Kidney’s application was a “test case” and, if it was approved, would set the precedent for future, similar situations.

He said: “It is difficult, because I’m still absolutely firm that the Article 4 Direction was the right thing to do, because we can’t carry on letting student accommodation and HMOs spring up wherever they want.

“But I’m pretty confident the committee will see the circumstances surrounding this case and that decision will give other people more certainty for the future.”

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