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News Report Page 8 of 18
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Liverpool to limit rise of "HMO" conversions

LIVERPOOL City Council is to limit the practice of converting smaller homes into houses for multiple occupation (HMOs). The Council's cabinet has on Friday, 19 March 2021, approved a recommendation to confirm an Article 4 direction which will protect more than 60,000 homes. The decision follows a 2 month long public consultation on the issue which showed 81% of people were in favour of the move. More than 850 people responded, with just 13% against the proposal. Over the past decade, Liverpool has seen a significant growth in the number of HMOs; with its booming student population and current housing benefit rules fuelling a demand for single person households.

Fears have been expressed that the volume of HMOs has reached:- "a tipping point," which is threatening the housing offer in the City for families and causing parking, anti social behaviour and waste collection issues in certain neighbourhoods. Currently, conversion of family houses into larger HMOs, 7 bedrooms and above, must have planning permission, meaning that the Council has some ability to influence where and how larger HMOs are developed. Now the City Council will introduce the same rules across the inner core of the City for any new HMOs of less than 7 bedrooms, from Thursday, 17 June 2021. The decision will have no impact on existing HMOs.

This is not the 1st time the Council has adopted this change. In 2018, it implemented an Article 4 Direction in the Dales area of Greenbank Ward, in South Liverpool, and this broader step across 11 Council Wards would follow a commitment made in Liverpool's Draft Local Plan to utilise Article 4 to control smaller HMO development elsewhere in the City.

The new Article 4 direction will apply to the following wards in the City:-

Anfield.   Central.
Princess Park.   Riverside.
Greenbank.   Picton.
Kensington And Fairfield.   Wavertree.
Tuebrook And Stoneycroft.    

Part of the following electoral wards will also be included at the boundaries of:-

Kirkdale Ward bounded by Leeds Street, Vauxhall Road, Ford Street and Scotland Road.

Church Ward bounded by Heathfield Road, Queens Drive, Allerton Road and Rutherford Road.

Councillor Barry Kushner, Liverpool City Council's cabinet member for Housing, said:- "Residents have told us how much HMO's are damaging the fabric and stability of their community. I'm delighted to say we have listened to those concerns and are seeking to take control of where these conversions can happen. Introducing Article 4 across the heart of the City will protect more than 60,000 homes and provide the security and support our communities need to flourish. As a Council we need to have the ability to offer families of all different sizes and people with a whole host of needs a variety of good quality, affordable homes. If unchecked HMOs were in danger of reducing Liverpool's offer which is why we need to reset the dial whilst developing more social housing across the City. Changing the planning rules by introducing controls under Article 4 will not just protect the wellbeing of the people who live in these communities, it will also help protect the balance of our housing offer; which, in some areas, is close to a dangerous tipping point of being dominated by 1 bedroom bedsits. We received over 850 consultation responses and whilst 81% of them were in favour of the measures, we also listened to landlords who were concerned over the effect on ongoing conversions during the Pandemic. We therefore decided to extend the period before the Direction comes into effect in June. Of course Article 4 is not the whole answer to Liverpool's housing problems. That is why we are preparing a new application for our Landlord Licensing Scheme, to ensure good housing standards are maintained in the private rented sector and why the City Council is embarking on a house building programme for the 1st time in 30 years."

Action urged on plastic water bottles

FRIENDS of the Earth and City to Sea are marking World Water Day by urging politicians, companies and the public to help reduce plastic pollution caused by the billions of single use plastic water bottles used in the UK every year.

Around 14 billion plastic bottles were estimated to be used in the UK in 2018.

Billions of these are plastic water bottles; 7.7 billion it was estimated in 2017.

Every single day, it's been estimated that around 16 million plastic bottles in the UK are not recycled, which means they will end up in landfills, incinerators or our natural environment.

These bottles result in needless waste that blights our environment and threatens our wildlife: they are 1 of the most commonly found, identifiable plastics on UK beaches.

Friends of the Earth and City to Sea are urging politicians, companies and individuals to play their part in reducing the impact of plastic water bottles by:-

Reuse through Refill. Refilling water bottles can play a major part in reducing the problem. Consumers and businesses alike can use City to Sea's free Refill app; the 1st of its kind. The ground breaking app's geo located database offers over 30,000 places where people can refill their water bottles when they are out and about in the UK, and it is now expanding to cover countries around the world. It's estimated that the Refill campaign has already saved over 100 million plastic bottles entering our waste stream. City to Sea estimates that if 1 in 10 Brits refilled just once a week around 340 million plastic bottles a year would be saved. UK drinking water is of the highest standard, and among the best in the world.

Increase drinking water fountains and water refill locations. Local Authorities, transport hubs and businesses can all play their part in the expansion of water fountains and water refill facilities to make it easier for people to refill their water bottles when they are out and about, and save money. City to Sea have produced a comprehensive tool kit that provides a step by step guide on how to safely install water fountains.

The inclusion of all sizes of plastic bottles in a comprehensive Deposit Return Scheme to boost recycling. The Government is due to shortly consult on a Deposit Return Scheme for England, which is due to begin in 2023. Friends of the Earth and City to Sea are calling for Government to introduce an:- 'all in' scheme that includes all plastic drinks containers of all sizes; as well as glass bottles, aluminum cans and cartons. A German scheme for plastic, glass and metal drink containers has seen recycling hit 97%. A DRS scheme in Scotland is due to begin in July 2022, and will include PET plastic drinks bottles, aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles. While the introduction of a DRS scheme is welcome, it is important that that waste reduction measures are not ignored. More must be done to cut waste in the 1st place and boost refill and re-use.

The Government to set new laws to drastically reduce plastic pollution. Friends of the Earth and City to Sea are calling on the Government to include legally binding targets to reduce plastic pollution in its flagship Environment Bill.

New UK laws are being written in the Environment Bill right now: Friends of the Earth and City to Sea are calling on the Government to seize this historic opportunity to set overarching plastics reduction targets that truly turn the tide on plastic pollution. As highlighted by the 46 signatories of a letter to Boris Johnson on this issue earlier this year, including Friends of the Earth and City To Sea, legally binding plastics reduction targets would reduce the harm that plastic pollution is causing to wildlife, human health and the environment.

Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner Camilla Zerr said:- "Billions of single use plastic water bottles are produced in the UK every year – many of which end up littering our environment and clogging up our waterways. But it doesn't need to be like this, especially as the UK has top quality drinking water available from the tap. By saying no to bottled water and refilling from a tap or water fountain, we can all help stem the tide of plastic pollution, and save money. Reuse and refill should be part of plans to build back greener after the Pandemic. Businesses, Councils and the Government must do more to ensure people have free and easy access to water. The forthcoming Deposit Return Schemes should also lead to fewer bottles blighting our environment, but they must cover all plastic bottles of every size. But bottles are just a small part of the plastics crisis. The Government must set targets to reduce plastic pollution in the Environment Bill which is expected back in Parliament in May."

Steve Hynd, City to Sea's Policy Manager said:- "Single use plastic water bottles now make up over ˝ of all plastic bottle sales in the UK. The plastic pollution that this causes can be seen on our riverbanks and on our beaches for all to see. Although there are measures in the pipeline that will start to address this, like the long promised deposit return scheme, we are today urging Government, businesses and consumers to step up and do what they can immediately. We urgently need more public water fountains, we need more businesses willing to offer free water refills and we need more consumers to start carrying a water bottle that they can Refill on the go instead of buying single use bottles. Change is happening, in law and in consumer behaviour, but we need everyone to be pushing for more to happen faster."


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