Housing stock survey to protect Kingsholm’s family homes is delayed by council red-tape

Cllr. Angela Conder and Cllr. Jeremy Hilton at Oxford Road. One of the roads most affected by the loss of family homes being converted into Houses in Multiple Occupation

A promised housing stock survey in Kingsholm has been delayed yet again by council red-tape. The latest excuse was provided by the Conservative cabinet member in a written answer to a question from Lib Dem councillor for Kingsholm, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton.

The survey is planned so that the council can provide definitive evidence that too many family homes in Kingsholm are being converted into Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

A 130-signature petition was handed into the cabinet by Jeremy Hilton in November 2020. 

The Petition said:

“Too many family homes in Kingsholm are being converted into Houses in Multiple Occupation, without planning permission being required. It is currently permitted development for six persons or less.

I/We the undersigned demand that the city council starts work immediately on preparing evidence and documentation to apply to the Secretary of State to give Kingsholm the protection of an Article 4 Direction. This means that all conversions of family homes into Houses in Multiple Occupation would require planning permission.”

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said:

“Lib Dems tried to amend the council plan in July 2020 to get the work started on a housing stock survey, but the Conservatives voted it down.

“That is why I raised an online petition to get public support. I handed it in at the November 2020 cabinet.

“Shortly afterwards, I met officers who suggested we schedule the survey work for April this year. Then it was delayed until the summer to be part of a countywide housing survey.

“Now the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy says there have been delays because of legal queries and the tender documents haven’t been issued. It is ridiculous, the word incompetence comes to mind.

The written question and the answer published in the council papers of the 23rd of September 2021

Kingsholm ward colleague, Cllr. Angela Conder (Lib Dem) said:

“Kingsholm residents are frustrated by the Conservative council’s reluctance to treat Kingsholm as a special case. We see the onward creep of Houses in Multiple Occupation and the damage done to the community. Parking, noise and litter all contribute to the degradation of our once-quiet streets.”

Jeremy Hilton concluded: 

“It is very frustrating trying to get projects implemented at the city council. We are given dates, then later dates and then sometime never. The Conservatives have cut back so far, nothing seems to get done on time. The council has accurately been described as the ‘vanishing council’. 

“This housing stock survey is critical in getting our planning rules toughened up to protect Kingsholm’s family homes. It cannot be delayed further by red-tape or more accurately blue-tape.”

The long-awaited Kingsholm parking review has been launched

The Parking Proposals Map

Residents in Kingsholm are being asked for their views on new proposals to free up parking spaces for households, with an informal consultation now open until 15th October for people to provide their feedback.

Residents have eight weeks to have their say on a potential new and improved permit scheme aiming to make it easier for them to park closer to home.

Over the years many parking issues have been raised by Kingsholm residents and the county council wants to make sure on-street parking provision in the area is still fit for purpose.

Potentially introducing a permit scheme is one way which could prioritise residents’ vehicles over other users. Already some roads in Kingsholm have a residents’ parking permit scheme.

The county council is also keen to find out what people think of on street electric vehicle charging points in the area. As part of the consultation, possible locations will be included for new on street EV charging points in these review zones for residents to consider. These charging points will be the first of 500 double charging points (1000 charging points in total) around the county, allowing those without a driveway to consider moving to an electric vehicle to reduce their carbon footprint.

Jeremy Hilton at Oxford Road – one of the roads that is at its capacity in Kingsholm

County Cllr Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem) for Kingsholm, said: “The parking survey carried out in 2020 showed that a number of streets in Kingsholm were severely congested with parked cars and some roads were near to their capacity. Many residents do not have off street parking and find it very difficult at times to park their cars near to their homes. I’m therefore pleased that the county council is now carrying out a public consultation on parking in my division. I encourage everyone to have their say.”

Kingsholm City Councillor Angela Conder (Lib Dem) said: “There is no easy solution to managing on-street parking in Kingsholm, but we believe that the county council can do better. We are also interested in what people think about the location of the proposed electric vehicle charging points. Are they in the right place?”

View the plans and give feedback online at  www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/parkingreviews

These are the options being proposed, it is colour coded. Use to cross reference with the map

Parking Review Process

Each parking review follows a similar process as outlined below:

  1. Scheme inception – initial data gathering and discussions with local stakeholders;
  2. Informal consultation – consultation with local residents and businesses to find out if local people find parking a problem, if they would like to see changes considered, and if so, what changes.
  3. Statutory consultation – a formal consultation process where we present a detailed proposed scheme. Feedback to this stage will be used to decide if any changes are made.
  4. Implementation (if appropriate) – launch of new scheme.

The consultation questionnaire will be open for comments until the 15th October 2021.

My questions for cabinet at the county council 17th March

Jeremy Hilton campaigning to resolve empty homes problem

These are my written question to cabinet members at the county council being held virtually on the 17th March. It’s one of my tasks to keep the Tories on their toes. To challenge constructively.

Q1 – Vernon Smith
What is the outcome of the study carried out by Severn Trent, in collaboration with the county council, into the August 2020 floods that impacted on parts of Kingsholm?


Q2 – Lynden Stowe
Does the county council own any land at Javelin Park that is not used by UBB and which may be free for non-incinerator uses?
If so what is the size of the unused land?


Q3 – Nigel Moor
Has the county council received the annual report from Allstone about their search for an alternative site to relocate their stone crushing, recycling, aggregates and skip hire business to?


Q4 – Dave Norman
When will the Kingsholm parking review be completed?


Q5 – Vernon Smith
After so many years of Tory control why are there as so many potholes all over the county?


Q6 – Patrick Molyneux
What plans do you have to build a new non-selective secondary to serve the north of Gloucester?


Q7 – Vernon Smith
Will you join me in condemning the persons who vandalised the speed survey equipment on Sandhurst Lane Gloucester?


Q8 – Nigel Moor/Lynden Stowe
What discussions have been had with the county council over plans} to locate an eco-park at the site of the Hempsted Landfill facility? 

Debenhams building – future still uncertain

Debenhams set to close – building for sale

There has been speculation over the weekend (27 & 28 Feb) that the Debenhams building has been sold. This may or may not be the case. We know that Aviva has been talking to a number of buyers.

But a sale isn’t a sale until it’s been signed on the dotted line.

Secondly any purchaser, would want to talk to the city council ahead of the deal being completed. A sale therefore, may be subject to planning permission.

This morning, I have asked officers at the city council for an update. This is what I was told:

“We have not had any confirmation from the owners or any prospective purchasers that the building has been sold and therefore it would be wrong to speculate on what the terms of any hypothetical disposal may be.”

As I have said before, my preference is to see the building restored to its former glory and repurposed if necessary.

As a regular shopper at this store I am also disappointed to see Debenhams go into liquidation.

Debenhams building is not listed, though it sits in a conservation area so cannot be demolished without the council’s permission.

What I do not want to see is this landmark building demolished to make way for a new build.

The Lib Dem group are determined to work with the new owners to see this handsome building fully restored and fully occupied. It’s a focal point in our city centre. An important anchor for our new Kings Square.

67/69 London Road – some slow progress

Jeremy Hilton with the run down buildings on London Road in the background

On the 27th of July I met a representative of Pall Mall Estates, the owners of 67/69 London Road with the leader of the city council. Yesterday I had a telephone conversation to follow up on our recent email communications.

There has been some progress and Pall Mall have commissioned an architect to look at options for the site whether they be the conversion of the existing building or demolition and new build. Both for residential purposes.

The site is allocated for 30 dwellings in the city plan. Pall Mall are looking for 70 to 100 units. I think there are trying to squeeze too much onto the site and have told them so.

Here are the answers to some questions I put to Pall Mall

Cllr Hilton – Did the city council provide you with a list of its contacts from registered social landlords? 

Pall Mall – Yes

Cllr Hilton – Have you had any successful negotiations with Registered Social Landlord to progress a housing scheme for the site? 

Pall Mall – Not yet, albeit RSL focus has deviated away from apartment development meantime due to Covid. We anticipate this will be revived in due course.  

Cllr Hilton – How many housing units do you think would make a viable project? 

Pall Mall – Depending upon proposals (i.e. holistic new build or part conversion / part new build), tenure and end product we are looking in the region of 70-100 homes.

Cllr Hilton – Have you made contact with Homes England about securing some public funds?

Pall Mall – Developer/RSL to make enquiries.

Cllr Hilton – What value do you need to get from the sale. I have heard £4 million? 

Pall Mall – Yes.

Cllr Hilton – Have you had since we met any non-housing enquiries? 

Pall Mall – None I can recollect.

GLEVUM GREEN (REDROW) – STREET CLEANING – LORRIES

I have been in contact with the site manager of Glevum Green housing development. In particular, I have expressed concern about the cleaning of neighbouring streets to clear the mud from the roads and the use of the Wotton Pitch route along Denmark by lorries visiting the construction site.

Redrow contractor cleaning Kingsholm Road

STREET CLEANING

Road sweeping Schedule has been increased due to the wet weather. The road sweeper is now in use during working hours every day Monday to Friday. Redrow tell me they have introduced extra measures to reduce mud reaching the road. A bowser has been introduced to wash the wheels of vehicles leaving the site.

Approved route for lorries visiting development site

TRANSPORT ROUTE

Lorries should NOT be travelling to and from the site via the London Road direction. All vehicles should arrive and leave by accessing Kingsholm Road. See the approved route map. Redrow have told me they have reminded their groundworks contractors of the approved route to the site and the banksman team at the dispatch end have been told to remind drivers of the approved exit route.

If you do see lorries travelling down Denmark Road from Wotton Pitch/London Road try and capture a photo or record their number plate and email me at Jeremy.hilton@gloucestershire.gov.uk with time and date and I will report the matter to the site manager for you.

SECOND HALF OF HORTON ROAD TO BE RESURFACED – from 26th Jan

The state of the second section of Horton Road to be resurfaced

A few months ago Gloucestershire County Council resurfaced Horton Road from its junction of London Road to the Aspen Centre.

Jeremy Hilton points to the section of road resurfaced in October 2020

A great job was done says local Lib Dem councillor Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton).

Now the county council is to complete the work, which Cllr. Hilton previously requested. This will be a section from the Aspen Medical Centre to the junction with Great Western Road.

The planned start of the work is from the 26th of January to 1st of February, with the roadworks taking place between 7pm to 7am, excluding weekends.

Section of Horton Road closed to traffic during resurfacing work

Cllr. Hilton said: “I’m really pleased that this work is now taking place. The dates are subject to weather conditions. I ask those that need to use Horton Road to be patient. The contractors are very efficient. Once the new surface is down the road marking will be repainted. The current ones are badly faded to the extent drivers may be breaking traffic regulations without knowing it.”

Sainsbury’s set to close

On behalf of Dr Rebecca Trimnell and myself as the lead petitioners opposing the closure of the Sainsbury’s Store on Northgate Street. We thank everyone who signed our petition there were just under 700 signatures showing the strength of opposition over the closure of the store.

Rebecca and I had a virtual meeting with a senior representative from Sainsbury’s and we also had a conversation with Mountcharm who are the owners of the building.

Unfortunately, we were unable to persuade Sainsbury’s to keep their store open, which they say will close in January 2021. A link to copy of their letter is below.

We understand that Mountcharm are preparing plans to restructure the ground floor retail space and convert the first floor into apartments.

Both Rebecca, Angela and I are committed to supporting a grocery store on the ground floor and we understand this is a strong possibility.

We are disappointed that we were unable to persuade Sainsbury’s to change their mind. It is sad to see this popular store closing after 50 years.

We hope we don’t see an empty shop for too long.

HAPPY NEW YEAR – HOPING IT’S BETTER THAN 2020

My best wishes to you all, take care and stay safe. I hope that now two vaccines have been approved life will return to normal this coming year.

People across Kingsholm & Wotton county division pulled together brilliantly to help each other get through 2020. From our fabulous NHS and key workers to individuals volunteering to help their neighbours.

2020 has been the busiest year ever for me as a local councillor.

I have dealt many issues ranging from the impact of the pandemic, the new cycle route on London Road, tackling anti-social behaviour, the effects of the flooding during August, repairing our roads and footways, to raising petitions to save Kingsholm’s family homes and lobbying Sainsbury’s to try and stop them closing their Northgate Street…and much more!

It’s a great please to serve you on the council, I expect 2021 to be just as busy, do contact me, I’m here to help.