Bristol Green Party has responded to defend migrants from an article in the Post about an ex-Porn studio in St George being converted into a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO).
The issue focuses on a planning application to create housing in the form of flats for 40 people in 20 double rooms. The owner intends to offer six month tenancies, inclusive of bills.
Lorraine Francis, Green candidate for St George West, said, “I am committed to listening to communities, and to hear what the concerns are for local people. The Post’s article is confusing however. Are residents concerned that a building will be given planning permission for HMO usage or that it would be migrants living in the accommodation? I am concerned that an important local issue is being reported in an inflammatory way. The impact of transient residents on an area is the same regardless of those residents’ nationality, and it is this impact that seems to be the community’s main concern. I will be discussing the issue with local residents”.
Tony Dyer, Green candidate for Mayor of Bristol, said, “I am committed to building 8,000 new homes in Bristol, including speeding up the delivery of as many as possible of the 9,000 homes in the city which already have planning permission but have not yet been built. However it is vital that we build not just houses but communities and that means listening to local people and ensuring their concerns are addressed in regards to new development. We need to provide good quality housing for a wide range of needs and that will inevitably lead to concerns about the impact of housing types aimed at a specific sector. It is important to ensure that the council and developers fully explain any positive and/or negative effects of such development, including possible mitigation measures if needed, so that local residents are as clearly informed as possible”.
Ani Stafford-Townsend, Leader of the Green Group on Council, speaking from her experience as a former Development Control Committee Chair, said, “looking over the plan, it’s not clear what the size allocation is for each room. However, at face value it doesn’t look like people are being squeezed in. Residents’ concerns about transience are understandable, though I’d suggest the bigger concern should be the level of rent that will be charged. A HMO like this would have the potential to inflate housing costs in the area if it charges a higher than average rent. If I was chairing the committee looking at this, I’d want a site visit to get a sense of size, and reassurances on quality of finish and rental levels. A more convincing attempt at easing the housing crisis would include a kitchen in each unit rather than communal facilities”.