Published: 00:01, 26 June 2016
A severely-disabled writer describes his neighbourhood as “descending into hell” with party-loving students driving families out.
Wheelchair bound Anthony Price says he has been plagued by sleepless nights, mindless vandalism and properties gone to seed.
He even reports that on one occasion he found human excrement outside his garden gate.
Mr Price says he is now trapped in his house on Canterbury’s Hales Place housing estate – once a thriving community with families living side by side.
Neighbouring homes have been snapped up by buy-to-let landlords over the years, leaving the 32-year-old marooned among student houses.
He says “every September’s a horrible lottery” as he waits to see who will move into the area.
Mr Price – who has studied at both University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University himself – claims this year has been particularly horrendous.
He describes routinely lying awake in bed into the early hours, frustrated by thumping beats, screams and laughter from nearby properties.
He says rubbish has spilled from bins outside homes whose tenants had no regard for those around them, and no idea of bin collection times.
Cars, boundary walls and gardens were often vandalised by drunken youngsters, and wheelie bins frequently tipped over and their contents kicked across the street.
Recently, Mr Price even found human excrement and used toilet paper on the pavement outside his garden gate.
"I think we're seeing some students becoming less and less respectful. It's hell and tantamount to cruelty" - Anthony Price
“This was a close-knit, friendly community and a great place to grow up,” says the former St Anselm’s pupil.
“Now it’s descended into hell. There is no community. Just rows of rental machines with selfish students who think it’s their God-given right to keep people awake.”
Mr Price, of Headcorn Drive, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and has a carer who supports him during the day.
“I can be lying there, with music pounding out from another house, and there’s nothing I can do. I’m trapped there until the carer arrives in the morning.”
He accepts that only a small proportion of the student population in his area is responsible for anti-social behaviour.
“We’ve had students within the community for as long as I can remember. More often than not they’re fine,” he said.
“But with student numbers growing and growing, the sense of community disappears. Now there’s just a few family homes left dotted around.
“So you get houses where the behaviour is unacceptable, and the rest just turn a blind eye. After all, they’re only here for a year, maybe two.
“What do they care about the neighbourhood?”
Mr Price lives with his elderly parents and the house has been specially adapted with equipment needed for him to cope with his disability.
He says they would dearly love to move but would be unable to afford another property with the same facilities.
"They're only here for a year, maybe two. What do they care about the neighbourhood?" - Anthony Price
“No family would want to live here,” he says. “You could only sell to a prospective landlord. That in itself is the problem, and that is why the Hales Place estate has been ruined.”
A fiction writer, Mr Price has two bachelor degrees and a masters.
He lays the blame for anti-social behaviour in his area squarely at University of Kent students.
“I’ve contacted the university, but as of yet, had no response,” he says. “I think we’re seeing some students becoming less and less respectful. It’s hell and tantamount to cruelty.”
He adds that his complaint is not a personal attack on all students.
“Individually, the vast majority are decent,” he says. “But a minority behave appallingly, and the rest, with no investment in the area, do nothing about it. The end result is communities like mine ruined. And I think that’s a tragedy.”
UKC spokesman Martin Herrema said: “The university is looking into this matter.
“We have a guide for students living in the community which is designed to ensure they are good neighbours.
“If we find there is behaviour that constitutes a breach of our student non-academic discipline regulations, we will take action.”
Special powers allowing the city council to rein in the spread of student housing in residential areas came in to force in February.
The so called Article 4 direction can leave potential landlords needing planning permission to convert family properties into Homes of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).
But in areas like the Hales Place estate, many homes had already undergone conversion before the laws came in to force.
Canterbury City Council is conducting a student impact review, assessing the affects of the city’s higher education provision.
Velia Coffey, the authority’s deputy chief executive, said: “Some of the aims of the review are to assess the impact on residents living in areas where there are large numbers of student properties.
“Common issues such as the lack of a sense of community, noise and parking problems, as well as the physical appearance of these areas, are all being researched as part of the review.
“The council has been working closely with residents’ groups, students, the college and universities, businesses and landlords to better understand the positive and negative impacts and will work together on finding solutions to some of the problems.
“There will be further public consultation in early September and the review is due to report its findings in October.”
More by this authorChris Pragnell