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University of Kent's Student Union condemns council's 'Article 4' housing law

New powers allowing a city council to rein in the spread of student housing in residential areas have been condemned by student representatives.

Canterbury City Council has this month activated laws imposing curbs on the conversion of family homes into Houses of Multiple Occupancy(HMOs).

The so-called Article 4 Direction now leaves potential landlords needing planning permission for such conversions.

Students at UKC, Canterbury
Students at UKC, Canterbury

But the University ofKent’s Student Union has branded the move “nothing more than NIMBYism”.

Kent Union President Tammy Naidoo said:“On the one hand you have advocates of this policy saying it is about creating ‘balanced communities’ and spreading where students live across the city.

“However their solution is often to build sky high tower blocks and have students live there in a completely concentrated area.”

University of Kent, Canterbury
University of Kent, Canterbury

Opponents to HMOs claim an unrestricted market has led to family communities being torn apart and residential quarters such as the Hales Place Estate being turned into “student ghettos”.

The city council’s Article 4 direction gives the authority the discretion to refuse planning permission in areas where HMO density exceeds 10% of overall property stock.

This has led to concern among some owners of family homes that it could negatively impact on the value of their property as it removes the potential for a lucrative HMO conversion.

Speaking after the new power came into force on Thursday, city council leader Simon Cook said: “Houses of multiple occupation are an important part of the economy and vibrancy of Canterbury, but for some time now the feeling has been that they are concentrated in specific areas rather than being spread around the city.

"Article 4 allows us to get a better balance of these properties across all communities.”

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