Lib Dem councillors want to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire 67/69 London Road

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

Liberal Democrat councillors for Kingsholm & Wotton, Jeremy Hilton & Isabel Brazil have issued a challenge to the Tory run city council to acquire 67/69 London Road for a housing development.

The two former office buildings on London Road have remained empty for many years and they are deteriorating and becoming eyesores within an important conservation area.

The annual meeting of the city council (21st May) will debate a motion proposed by Jeremy Hilton & seconded by Isabel Brazil calling on the council to acquire the dilapidated buildings for housing.

Cllr Hilton said: “Local residents are fed up with these empty buildings being an eyesore on London Road. Our motion hopefully, will get things moving.”

Cllr. Isabel Brazil agreed: “The buildings are run down and can no longer be easily let. The draft city plan suggests at least 30 residential units could be provided on the site. The council should now buy the properties for a housing project.”

The motion from the Kingsholm & Wotton councillors calls for compulsory purchase powers to be used if reasonable terms cannot be agreed.

Jeremy Hilton concluded: “The owners have failed look after the properties, we cannot allow them to continue to remain empty for year after year.

“The council must now buy them for a new housing project, using some of the £80m it set aside for such developments. If a negotiated purchase fails the council must use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the site.”

Ends….

Text of motion lodged with city council (dated 1st May 2018 11:12 am)

“This council notes that both 67 and 69 London Road, former offices, have been empty for a number of years and that these buildings are continuing to deteriorate.

They have become an eyesore on London Road, which is a conservation area and also one of the main routes into the city centre.

This council also notes that the combined site is listed in the draft city plan as being suitable for residential development.

This council, therefore, asks the leader to use city council resources to acquire 67 and 69 London Road for a residential regeneration project.

This council also agrees that the city council should use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the site if reasonable purchase terms cannot be agreed by negotiation with the current landowner.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton

Seconded by Isabel Brazil

Objections expected to flood in over 100 homes plans for Civil Service sports ground

Isabel Brazil and Jeremy Hilton with the former Civil Service sports ground in background

Plans have been submitted to build 100 homes on the grounds of the former Civil Service club in Kingsholm.

Liberal Democrat councillors are opposed to so many properties being built on the Estcourt Road site because it will take away valuable green space for local people.

The application by Redrow Homes to Gloucester City Council is an increase of 11 properties on a previous application of 89 homes, which is yet to be determined by the planning committee.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, who represents Kingsholm Ward on the city council, said the new application is in contravention of several council polices.

“The area has less public open space than the council says is necessary for the local population,” said Councillor Hilton.

“This application will take away valuable green space in the heart of Kingsholm. We do need more houses, but not so many at this location.

“The council’s draft city plan says the maximum on the site should be 20. This would leave the large field untouched and available for sport and recreation.

“Sport England raised objections to the previous application of 89 houses I imagine they will do the same for 100 dwellings.”

It is expected that the council will receive many objections as it did on the previous application, added Councillor Hilton.

Councillor Isabel Brazil, who also represents Kingsholm Ward, said: “We need to protect the green spaces in Kingsholm. There just isn’t enough locally, especially public open space.

“We are supporting plans for new housing on London Road and off Great Western Road, but the maximum permitted at Civil Service Club must be 20.”

Councillor Hilton added: “Redrow has been unable to find an alternative sports site nearby, so they are proposing as a sop to the council a cash contribution to be spent on sports fields in the south of Gloucester.

“Kingsholm will lose out. This is unfair.”

Both councillors are recommending that local people send in individual letters of objection, which can be also be done online at www.gloucester.gov.uk The planning document reference is 18/00306/FUL

800 homes empty in Gloucester

Jeremy Hilton campaigning to resolve the empty homes problem

Nearly 800 homes in Gloucester are empty, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, show that there are 791 homes across the city that have been empty for six months or more.

Of these, 299 had been empty for two years or more, 95 for five years or more, and 37 have stood empty for at least 10 years in Gloucester.

Across the country more than 11,000 homes have been lying empty for longer than a decade, the Lib Dem figures show.

Conservative-controlled Gloucester City Council has failed to make use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) in the last five years – powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least six months.

This is despite the fact that some people in Gloucester have spent Christmas without a permanent home – living in temporary accommodation.

Nationally only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded had used an EDMO in the past five years. Of these only six had used one in the past year.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, the Liberal Democrat group leader on Gloucester City Council, said: “At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes locally are sitting empty.

“These homes could be turned into affordable places to live for those that need it in Gloucester.

“The Government needs to urgently review the current system which is clearly not working and Gloucester City Council needs to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use.

“It is shameful that Gloucester City Council has failed to use existing powers to end this scandal. People have spent Christmas without a permanent home because of Conservative inaction and ineptitude.”

Councillor David Brown, the Liberal Democrat housing spokesman on Gloucester City Council, added: “These desperately needed reforms must form part of a wider package to tackle the housing crisis, including building more homes on unused public sector land and clamping down on land-banking.”

Gloucester Lib Dems call for new ‘City Plan’ for Gloucester

Map of proposals from 1983 Gloucester local plan

Map of proposals from 1983 Gloucester local plan

Gloucester City Council is to debate a motion from the Liberal Democrat group, at council on Thursday. The Lib Dems are calling for a new City Plan for Gloucester, which will be an up to date set of polices that will become the development framework for Gloucester for the next few years.

Lib Dem leader, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Kingsholm & Wotton) said: “The last adopted development plan dates back to 1983. Its 33 years old and a lot has changed in Gloucester since then. Both Labour and Conservative administrations, in that time, have failed to get updates to the plan adopted as required by the government. We are asking the cabinet member for housing & planning to report back to council in September on how he intends to deliver a new City Plan. We want it adopted as a matter of urgency.”

The current timetable for approving the new City Plan was for it to be approved by council in time to go to the planning inspector in the winter of 2016 for adoption in 2017. Liberal Democrats are concerned that the delays in approving a new City Plan could allow a developers to override current polices arguing they are out of date, despite many being formally being ‘saved’ by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2007.
Cllr. David Brown (Hucclecote), Lib Dem spokesperson for housing & planning said: “The city council have a timetable to deliver the City Plan but due to the delay in adopting the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) it is now woefully outdated. We need the council to be able to work with developers from a position of strength, with a clear plan for the city, a plan that best benefits current and future residents. For that we need a City Plan that is fit for the future sooner rather than later.”

The new City Plan should be a development document that sits beneath the JCS. It must explain how the council will implement the spatial vision and strategic objectives in the JCS up to the year 2031 and provide criteria that it will apply when considering planning applications for different types of buildings or other development.

Private Sector tenants need longer tenancies says Jeremy Hilton

More must be done to protect tenants who rent their home from private landlords says “Gloucester Born and Bred” Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton.

Jeremy Hilton said: “In the last few years there has been a big increase in the number of people who rent their homes in the private sector. There are good landlords and there are rogue ones.

“Most people just have a six month short-hold tenancy agreement. Tenants can be given just two months notice once the six month tenancy ends. This means tenants having just 8 months to live in their home before they have to move out. Imagine moving home every 8 months out of no choice of your own. I believe this is unfair and disruptive to family life.

“I am pleased that the Liberal Democrats will encourage more multi-year private sector tenancies. They will have an agreed inflation linked annual rent increase built in. This would protect the tenants and reassure the landlord the rent keeps pace with inflation.”