Residents form action group in Northampton to prevent influx of shared houses

Residents are standing side-by-side to save Far Cotton's soul from the over-development of Houses in Multiple Occupation in their ward.
Residents are standing side-by-side to save Far Cotton's soul from the over-development of Houses in Multiple Occupation in their ward.

Following on from an article about Houses in Multiple Occupancy, published by this newspaper earlier this month, residents have now formed 'HMO Action Group Far Cotton' as the issue of shared university dwellings in the area was reportedly becoming too big an issue for the resident’s association to deal with.

Since the University of Northampton submitted plans to move out of its current sites in St George’s Avenue and Boughton Green Road to a 55-acre site in Nunn Mills Road within the Waterside Enterprise Zone, landlords have been snapping up student lets in Penrhyn Road, Southampton Road and in neighbouring streets.

Far Cotton residents say that the heart is being ripped out of the community as landlords are purchasing homes for self-gain.

Campaigner, Sarah Evans, who lives in Penrhyn Road, Far Cotton, said three other residents association groups have turned to them for help since an influx of HMO applications have been passed in her ward.

She said: “Cliftonville is especially affected, Wellingborough Road, Billing Road and many parts of St James.

“At the moment all we can do is offer advice and encourage them to apply for an Article 4 Direction to help stem the flow of HMO’s."

Under the Article 4 Direction, there should not be more than 15 per cent of HMOs in a 50 metre radius - but residents contest that there are unlicensed HMOs in Far Cotton, not on the council’s radar.

Two members of the HMO Action Group for Far Cotton met with MP Andrew Lewer last week.

Group member, John Bright said: "As a result of the meeting the planning team at Northampton Borough Council, along with the MP and Northampton University are keen to meet together with our group regarding HMO concerns in Far Cotton while also ensuring the 15 per cent threshold of HMO concentration isn’t exceeded.

"This meeting is due to be confirmed very shortly but will take place during August.

"As a group will welcome this and wish to fully work with all parties mentioned, in a proactive and cooperative manner.’’