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Sunday, 23 April 2017

The need for national legislation




For a number of issues facing Bath residents, we are have reached the point where they can no longer be addressed entirely by local agencies and need action at national level.

Air Quality

A disproportionally high proportion of the pollution in Bath City centre, and in particular the very damaging small particulate pollution, comes from diesel engines and we need:

·         A scrappage scheme to get the owners of diesel cars to move away from this form of fuel

·         A better and more equitable system for funding the creation of Clean Air Zones


Pavement Parking

Pavement parking is a big problem in the city centre causing considerable concern to people with mobility issues and causing considerable damage to paving stone which is unsightly, dangerous and expensive to put right and we need:

·         Legislation on pavement parking

Licensing

Licenced premises and their effective management are an important issue in Bath City centre, and indeed most urban centres in BANES. There are many problems with the current Licensing Acts which we outlined in our submission to the house of Lords Review and we need:

·         A review of the licencing law following up on the review by the House of Lords and in particular removing the artificial barriers between licensing and planning


Short term letting

Short term holiday and party lets can course major problems for neighbouring residents, are not subject to the same regulation or taxation regimes of other more conventional providers of holiday accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.

Internet companies such as Air B&B are considerably increasing this type of letting and whole neighbourhood are being blighted by the worse tenants and most irresponsible landlords.



 Local authorities are struggling to find legislation which allows them to manage this growing problem London Authorities have fallen back on some legislation from the 1970s which only applies within the boundaries of Greater London. However, even this rather inadequate legal provision was considerably weakened by the deregulations laws passed in 2015.

Outside London local government is struggling with case law which can only be applied in very limited circumstances.

·         We need legislation which unambiguously gives planning authorities powers to reclassify premises use for holiday letting as business use.


Housing Associations

Bath is unique in the number of people who choose to live in the city centre and in the social and economic diversity of those who live there.

This latter appears to be being changed by those entrusted with creating and managing social housing and other low-cost accommodation. We are increasingly seeing these organisation appearing to pursue policies which are displacing social housing tenants from the city centre and developing the resulting vacant properties for commercial gain by selling them, renting them out at commercial rents or even turning them into holiday accommodation.

These policies too often appear to be causing distress to tenants, threatening the nature of the city centre and displacing key city centre workers and turning them into commuters thus adding to their living costs and increasing the pressures on the city's fragile transport network.

·         We need changes to the regulatory framework to make Housing Associations as responsible for their social impact as they are for their financial management. They need to be made more accountable to local communities for what they do.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, I recognise this post is from some time ago so I hope this is still valid: the rules and restrictions re. short term lets are already in place. It is the ignorance of them by some owners/tenants that I see as the issue. Raising awareness that in most (but not all) cases it is not legal to let a residential property (especially flats in residential blocks) as a holiday let might be an easier and more effective task than changing or layering legislation.

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    1. This is quite a complex area legally particularly outside London (London operates under a different legal framework). We have taken extensive advice on this and I am afraid it is legal to let residential property short term even flats in residential blocks unless there are specific restrictions in the lease. It is possible to use a judgement of the court of appeal to claim change of use under planning law but the wording of this judgement mean it is of very limited application. Therefore we all a large number of other organisations and local authorities are calling for a change in primary legislation.

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    2. Hi Rebecca It would be interesting to know what Act of Parliament you believe makes short term holiday lets illegal? You might also be interested in the recent coverage of this matter on the BBC.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42633271

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  3. Thanks for the response though this is not my understanding. However, if we put that aside for the moment, other avenues that can be used if holiday lets are a nuisance are mortgage terms and buildings insurance, both of which typically include a requirement for the property to used as a main residence.

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