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Fears raised student housing could lead rise in anti-social behaviour

Worcester Editorial 28th Feb, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

RESIDENTS in St Clement fear the area could become a target for anti social behaviour if more properties are turned into student accommodation.

Their concerns were raised at a meeting of Worcester City Council’s planning committee last Thursday (February 20) where councillors discussed proposals to transform a former children’s day nursery on Lechmere Crescent into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO).

The application was brought to members’ attention after the council received a petition of objection which secured more than 100 signatures.

Objector Colin Austin told councillors the proposed HMO would “damage community cohesion” as he believed it would increase crime in St Clement.

The Hallow Road resident also said the introduction of student houses was leading to more homeowners considering leaving the area.

“Three of four families in the area feel they have already been forced out of St John’s having recently moved to Hallow Road specifically because the surrounding properties were being developed as student-led accommodation,” he said.

“But these families now find themselves in a similar predicament.”

Another resident said: “This is about the future of our residents. I have lived there for 15 years and I have beer bottles thrown into my garden and fence panels ripped out by students.”

Coun Chris Mitchell, councillor for the area, added: “I think the passion of the local resident is evident in the 106-man petition which was sent in.

“There is genuine concern that the conversion of that house into a HMO which would very likely be occupied by students would have an impact on their daily lives.”

Coun Mitchell was also among several councillors to raise concerns about the number of people who would be living at the nine-bedroom property. He believed it could be attract up to 18 people as the developer has proposed to include a double bed in each of the rooms.

Coun Alan Amos added: “Why are they planning to build nine double room when it will apparently have ten tenants? It does not make sense.

“I live in the real world and if you have got double rooms you expect double the people, so that’s 18 people and there only six car parking spaces.”

Alan Coleman, planning officer, said if there were more than ten residents they would be in breach of their housing licence and would be subject to action under the Housing Act.

However, members of the planning committee agreed to defer the application as they wanted confirmation from the housing authority on how they would control the amount of people living at the HMO.

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