Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A community to let

It’s that time of the year again, when the ‘to let’ signs go up all around Lenton, as the private landlords and their agents compete for new student tenants, who will not move in until the end of summer 2009 — which is still some nine months away.

Given that about 80% of the people who live in Lenton are students (the official classification is ‘in full-time education’), it feels as if the whole of Lenton is to let. A few of us stay put because we want to, others regard themselves as having no choice. A couple of years ago quite a few landlord houses were still empty at the beginning of the new university year in September and some locals thought the number of students wanting to live in Lenton had peaked. The reason for this was the development in and around the area of new-build apartment blocks, with modern, hi-tech, facilities.

This year I could count the number of empty landlord houses on one hand. It seems, if a recent housing survey of Nottingham students is to be believed, they prefer living in houses to apartments — which is good news of sorts. It shows that are no different to most of us and that we share one thing in common at least.

I have no problem with students making up a large chunk of Lenton’s population and, properly managed, the positives far outweigh the negatives. However, I would limit the number of registered ‘shared’ houses to 25% of any street. This would still mean students making up 50–60% of Lenton’s residents.

Some of us have been arguing and campaigning for tighter housing regulations and controls for over twenty years and, yes, whilst there are signs that Nottingham City Council and Nottingham University are beginning to address the challenge (I don’t like the word ‘problem’ in this particular case), it is still happening too slowly.

For my part, I believe we have to take as much power as we can into our own hands if we want to tackle the situation we face in a positive way, which benefits both students and long-term residents — which is where my campaign for a Lenton (and Dunkirk) urban parish council comes in.

The City Council continues to collude with developers (eg. Dunkirk Fire Station site) and to show nothing but disdain for Dunkirk and Lenton — or is it contempt? Either way, on a cold, wet, miserable day like today, it really does seem that Lenton is ‘a community to let’.

Furniture and kitchens specialist MFI has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, it was confirmed this afternoon. A notification of the company's intention to file for administration was lodged at the high court last night and staff were told at meetings this morning that the store chain was about to fold, putting thousands of jobs at risk. The group was today offering 70% discounts on its website, with free delivery.

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