New policies regarding excessive noise, HMOs and ‘To Let’ signs to be implemented within student communities
The strained relationship between a selection of students and some local residents of Newcastle’s student-concentrated communities could be subject to change with the implementation of new policies from the city council.
The proposals aim to control excessive noise levels and anti-social behaviour in addition to placing new restrictions on housing provisions.
In a study earlier this year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Newcastle was highlighted as having some of the strictest guidelines when it comes to disciplining students for noise complaints.
This September, 139 students were warned of excessive noise in North Jesmond alone, leading Northumbria police to implement a series of initiatives to crack down on anti-social behaviour and other disturbances.
oise complaints and anti-social behaviour have lead to a continual strain within local communities. Last year, the heavily student populated North Jesmond was found to have the highest number of noise complaints in Newcastle with 796 reports.
South Heaton received 614, and there were 462 in South Jesmond. Throughout Newcastle as a whole the city last year had 7,648 noise complaints, an increase from 6,318 the previous year.
With a bad history of noise complaints, especially in Jesmond, Northumbria Police have laid down new ploys to reduce such disturbances.
Operation Oak provides a mid-week police patrol during ‘prime times’ (11pm-4am) in the ‘trouble spots’ of South and West Jesmond. This has increased the visible presence of police in the area.
Inspector Louise Cass-Williams has applauded the new strategy saying, “The scheme, which has been really well received by residents – including students – and has helped to reduce disorder in Jesmond”. There are tens of thousands of students residing in Newcastle at any one time and only a “small number ever comes to our attention.”
“In the vast majority of cases once people have been spoken to once, they don’t come to our attention again.”
These proposals could have an impact on the links between students and local residents, and could even result in a decline of students choosing to live areas such as Jesmond and Heaton, the most popular student areas.
Along with the Environmental Health Agency, Northumbria police have also highlighted certain premises across Jesmond that have been connected with anti-social behaviour and are keeping them under closer surveillance.
The Council has also opened up consultation with residents in areas such as Jesmond and Heaton based on the number of student dominated Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s).
Residents alongside local politicians have also brought forward the issue of the plethora of ‘To Let’ signs that are scattered along house fronts.
The opinion of the Council is that ‘To Let’ signs are an “unattractive eyesore […] particularly in neighbourhoods containing many private rental properties, mostly catering for the student market.
“They can put off potential family buyers and renters and act as an advertisement to would be burglars”.
Local politicians are asking central government to remove the right for agents to freely put up ‘To-Let’ signs in selected areas – such as Jesmond and Heaton. These restrictions will also include the font sizes, colour and will place limitations on when and where the boards can be displayed.
A legal order regarding HMO’s also came into force in November, making it more difficult to convert a family home into a property that can be let out to multiple residents. Over time, this could lead to the gradual decline of the rental market in these areas, and thus a potential decline in student tenants.
The North Jesmond Focus newsletter, stated “We all know that the character of North Jesmond has been radically altered – often for the worse – by the huge increase in the number of HMO’s over the last decade.
“Your councillors agree with many, many residents who think that there should be a stringent controls on any increase in the number of HMO’s in this area”.