Following almost four years of work by a cross party group of councillors, Bristol Council yesterday (Tuesday November 3) approved a new housing planning policy which will allow the Council to support mixed and balanced communities by restricting the proportion of shared houses in areas of the city.
The new policy was arrived at after years of work by Green Party Councillor Clive Stevens and a group of councillors from other parties, including Lib Dem Councillor Anthony Negus, Conservative Councillor Mark Weston and Labour Councillors Paul Smith and Nicola Beech.
The news was welcomed by Action for Balanced Communities (ABC), an initiative formed in 2015 by residents groups across Bristol to respond to the impact of rapid university expansion on their communities. ABC worked closely with Councillor Stevens and other Councillors to demonstrate flaws with existing planning rules and helped them develop the details of the new policy. ABC’s chair said the policy was “a real step forward for communities throughout the city”.
The policy will restrict the proportion of shared houses (also known as ‘Houses of Multiple Occupation’ or HMOs) in parts of Bristol, setting a threshold of 10%. If approved, new HMO developments in areas of Cotham, Clifton Down and other HMO hotspots would be refused permission except in exceptional circumstances. The policy was proposed in response to a rapid expansion of HMOs in recent years to meet growing student numbers, which has restricted the supply of other types of homes and sometimes caused friction between long-term residents and students in parts of the city.
The new policy also sets higher quality guidelines for HMOs in an attempt to improve housing conditions, setting higher standards for room sizes, sound insulation and bin and bike storage.
"in parts of Bristol an over-concentration of HMOs has created conflict between long-term residents and students"
Councillor Stevens said:
“Way back in January 2017 I spoke at a Council meeting about how the unmanaged growth of Bristol’s universities (especially University of Bristol) was affecting our city’s housing market and thus the high rent and poor quality of accommodation suffered by students and others. Not enough halls of residence means too many conversions of homes into HMOs, making it harder for everyone else to find accommodation. And in parts of Bristol an over-concentration of HMOs has also created conflict between long-term residents and students and led to complaints over noise and waste.
“Since 2017 I’ve been working cross-party with Labour, Tory and Lib Dem councillors to find a solution, and the result is the Council’s new HMO policy. This should set higher quality standards for HMOs and prevent new ones from being developed in areas where they already make up 10% or more of properties. I’m really glad this was approved at cabinet today – I think it will lead to a more balanced housing mix in Bristol that works for local residents, students and others.”
"a real step forward for communities throughout the city"
Caroline Dix, chair of ABC Bristol said:
“The HMO SPD is the culmination of 5 years hard work by the residents’ associations represented by ABC and is a real step forward for communities throughout the city – it will make a difference to so many residents in the long term. With protection from an unchecked spread of HMOs and limitations on numbers in any area, more homes will be available for families and couples and the negative impacts on communities of having high density clusters of HMOs will be reduced.
“Although this doesn’t stop the harm in areas of the city that are already oversaturated with HMOs, it has firmly put the brakes on the situation getting any worse. We’d like to thank the BCC Councillors and Officers for their support and the work they have done with us on bringing the HMO SPD into being, ABC Bristol’s work on how we can influence planning and licensing decisions to improve or maintain communities will continue.”
Greens call for support for Bristol’s “Excluded”
Green Group Leader, Eleanor Combley, wrote to the Chancellor to urge him to end the disparities in government Covid-19 support.
"Cover-ups likely" say Greens
Green Councillor Clive Stevens, Vice Chair of Audit Committee, has warned that cover-ups are “likely” if councillors aren’t allowed to properly scrutinise all Council documents. Councillor Stevens said Councillors on Audit Committee must be allowed to perform their duty and have full access to ‘exempt’ Bristol City Council documents.
Calls for WECA to oppose airport expansion
The tide is turning against Bristol Airport’s expansion plans. Following a Green Party motion at Bristol Council passed on December 8th last year, two of three of the local councils that make up WECA now oppose airport expansion.
Bristol Green councillors join campaign to ensure no-one is punished for being homeless
Bristol’s Green councillors have signed and promoted a petition calling on the government to scrap new Home Office rules that would criminalise migrant rough sleepers and force them to leave the UK.
Council passes Green motion against airport expansion
A Green motion passed at yesterday's (8th December) Council meeting commits Bristol Council to opposing Bristol Airport expansion, overturning the administration’s previous position of supporting the plans.
Parents of disabled students wrongly billed hundreds of pounds
Bristol City Council has apologised after it wrongly billed the parents of disabled students hundreds of pounds for home to school transport. Councillor Fi Hance was contacted by distressed parents and immediately followed up their concerns with the Council. As a result, the mistake was rectified and the Council has now sent a letter of apology to each of the families who were wrongly charged.
Call for council to launch green savings bonds for climate action
A Green councillor has called for Bristol Council to launch locally issued investment bonds to fund climate action projects.
Call for Bristol Council to ‘say no to the mow’ in green spaces
Campaigners are calling on Bristol council to reduce grass cutting in verges and green spaces around the city. The move would reduce maintenance costs for the Council and support biodiversity.
A million reasons to oppose Bristol Airport expansion
Following new research showing that planes have three times the impact on the climate when total emissions released at height are properly incorporated, Bristol Green councillors are calling on the Bristol Mayor to rethink his support for Bristol Airport. Bristol City Council will debate this on December 8th 2020.
Greens on WECA: Stop playing blame game and get on with negotiations
Four years after it was set up, local arguments have again flared up over the future of WECA.
Four years later - Bristol is still waiting for clean air
Four years after Bristol City Council unanimously voted to support a clean air zone for Bristol, Bristol’s Mayor has failed to deliver on his promise.
Greens support “Liveable Neighbourhoods”
Green councillors are supporting communities across Bristol who are sick of air pollution and the congestion clogging the streets outside their homes and instead want to create ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods,’ streets where people and business come first, and communities can grow stronger. Liveable Neighbourhoods are supported by a broad network of community groups, including groups representing older people, young people and children, disabled people, people advocating travel by foot or bike, and groups tackling climate change, have come together to form Liveable Neighbourhoods for Bristol https://liveablebristol.org.uk/ to call for change.
“Our house is still on fire” 2 years on from the first UK climate emergency
Marking the 2 year anniversary of the UK’s first climate emergency declaration this Friday 13th Nov, its author, Green Party Councillor Carla Denyer, has decried a lack of action saying that the clock is ticking and “our house is still on fire”.
Council adopts new housing policy for balanced communities
Following almost four years of work by a cross party group of councillors, Bristol Council yesterday (Nov. 3) approved a new planning policy which will allow the Council to support mixed and balanced communities by restricting the proportion of shared houses in areas of the city.
Bristol’s community spirit has never been more needed
Following the announcement that the rising cases of coronavirus across the country mean we will go into a month long lockdown starting on Thursday, Green councillors are supporting calls for people across the Bristol to follow new public health guidance to save lives.
Green councillor takes telecoms giant to task over disruptions
A Green councillor in Clifton Down has secured a commitment from the telecoms giant Openreach to change and enforce their practices in Bristol after raising residents’ complaints with managers from the telecoms company.
Greens sound alarm as Bristol’s air pollution bounces back
Since the end of lockdown, air pollution has begun to rise to dangerous levels again with Bristol city centre already returning to pre-lockdown levels.
Council consulting on city centre Cumulative Impact Area
Bristol Council is consulting on a new Cumulative Impact Area (CIA) in the city centre, which would set licensing restrictions on night time economy businesses like bars, clubs, restaurants and takeaways.
Helping small businesses
Bristol Council is due to step back from levying street trading fees on businesses trading in suspended parking bays during the coronavirus outbreak. Instead of daily fees adding up to approx. £7000 per year, the council will instead request a yearly charge of just £100 for businesses that seek to take advantage of the social distancing measures imposed by the authority to trade in suspended bays. The move follows persistent pressure fro
Motion on reparations blocked as other parties refuse extra time
Cleo Lake's motion calling on Bristol Council to lobby the government over historic slavery reparations and support Bristol's black cultural centres has been dropped from a council meeting
Council to consult on planning changes to prevent overconcentration of student housing
Following three years of work by a cross party group of councillors, Bristol Council is consulting on a new housing planning policy designed to foster mixed and balanced communities
Enslavement reparations needed
A Green Party motion to be debated at next week’s Bristol Council meeting calls on the Council under the Mayor’s leadership to provide more support for black cultural centres in Bristol and to lobby the government to set up an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth & Reparatory Justice which would discuss reparations for the trafficking and enslavement in African people.
Rebooting democracy in Bristol
Two female politicians from different parties have been working together to reboot democracy in Bristol. Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke and Labour Deputy Mayor Asher Craig are leading the ground-breaking new approach of using citizens’ assemblies to help Bristol emerge from lockdown.
Campaigning during COVID
Bristol Green Party statement on current campaigning
Drop street trading fees for local businesses
A petition is calling on Bristol Council to drop charges for local businesses trading in suspended parking bays during the coronavirus outbreak.
#GiveNTech to combat digital exclusion
Working with institutions like Avon Fire Authority and Bristol Waste, Cleo Lake’s #GiveNTech campaign to combat digital exclusion in Bristol been providing laptops to families and individuals since its launch in May.
Greens welcome 'Downs Loop' proposals
A public consultation is under way on proposals for traffic calming and turning worn paths into an accessible loop around the Downs
Citizens Assembly to steer Bristol Covid recovery
Following a motion proposed by Green Councillors in January, Bristol Council is moving forward with plans to carry out a Citizens Assembly
WECA transport plans must “walk the walk not just talk the talk” say Greens
Green councillors have said they are disappointed that WECAs cycling and infrastructure plan “lacks urgency and ambition”.
Greens welcome first steps towards addressing Bristol’s dirty air
Green councillors have welcomed the announcement that next week Bristol bridge, Baldwin Street and Union Street will be closed to through traffic and new bike lanes installed along Park Row, Upper Maudlin Street and Marlborough Street. The changes mark much needed first steps towards improving dangerous levels of air pollution in Bristol. They will also help people move safely about our city during the pandemic by making more room for walking and cycling.