Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The decline of mums and rise of private landlords in Beeston. 'Lentonisation' in a word.

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of Beeston's future if market forces have their way.

I really do applaud the enterprise of Charlotte and Steve Purdie, who are the driving force behind a new kind of eatery on Chilwell Road. It's called The Milk Lounge and it will open next week, but mums and buggies were already going in and out yesterday morning. It's a great website and well worth a visit. It will explain the aims of the Purdie family far better than I ever can.

The Milk Lounge has two sides and the one on the right is laid out like a play/sensory area and its bee image captures the feel of what should be a fun place for babies, toddlers, mums and families.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with private landlords?

Yesterday we came home to find the postcard below had been pushed through our letterbox. It asks the question 'Do you know how much your house is worth to an investor in student property? We do!.'

Click on the card to enlarge the text and read clearly. Also visit the PurpleFrog website so you can see for yourself how Beeston as well as Nottingham is being targeted.

We live on the edge of what was once the Beeston Fields Council Estate in a former council house. With so many sold to occupiers after Mrs Thatcher decided it would be a good thing to scrap council housing. Today, the number of council houses is probably in a minority and there is a good chance that there are as many private landlord owned houses as owner occupied properties on the estate.

In other words private landlord 'investor(s)' can make a profit out of owning even a small council house by renting it out to students, thereby qualifying for council tax exemption. Living rooms can be turned into bedrooms. The garden may well be large enough for an extension to be built. It will be impossible for Broxtowe Borough Council to refuse planning permission when a private 'investor'/ landlord submits a planning application because it has no registration scheme limiting occupants and property types and many houses already have extensions.

The number of council tax exempt properties in Beeston is probably growing at the rate of one a day based on what information I have already from Broxtowe Borough Council. I am waiting for more detailed information, as I mentioned in my blog post dated 8 April 2017. Based on the information I have I estimate there are presently around 1200 council tax exempt properties in Beeston (in 2015 there were 519) — an increase of 681 in two years. I await the promised information with interest.

In the meantime back to Beeston mums and why they are vanishing. The simple truth is that young families are being priced out of Beeston by a mixture of house prices and rising rents because of private landlord investors. I call this process 'Lentonisation' and I have blogged about this before (most recently in November 2016).

The Milk Lounge will, I'm sure, be a success and prove popular with mums, but over time the number of Beeston mums using The Milk Lounge will decline. What the Lenton experience shows is that oldies like us hold on as long as we can, but first time buyers and young families are priced out.

Only time will prove me right, but one thing is certain, Nottingham University is going to continue to expand and will need ever more accommodation for students. There are ways around the problem, two year degree courses based on 46 weeks teaching instead of 30 weeks as at present. More distance learning.

Students are not of themselves the problem and many want to live in the local community, but because Broxtowe Borough Council does not regulate the number of council tax exempt properties they end up living in ghettoes and not a 'balanced/mix community' (the Council talks about the latter, but there is no evidence that they actually care).

I will save writing about the loss of council tax income across the Borough and County to another day. The truth is local government services suffer and I believe all three main political parties in Beeston and on Broxtowe Borough Council are culpable. They have all helped to create the situation I have described above.

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