Business case for Additional Licensing in the Selly Oak Area

Information supplied by Birmingham City Council

  • Refuse and waste management.
    • The density and unusual demographics of the student population in Bournbrook, together produce a number of specific problems with regards to refuse collection; probably because of lack of domestic awareness. To move matters forward, a project was developed, with widespread consultation, involving Birmingham City Council (BCC), UoB and the Guild of Students, to install an initial pilot of wheelie bins to several specific roads, when this was not BCC policy. This was then rolled out further as BCC policy came on-line. The new system produces better outcomes than the previous one, but it is still capable of significant improvement, which would best be achieved by landlord involvement, that would be facilitated by Additional Licensing.
  • Environmental issues including fly tipping:
    • Over 160 tonnes of items dumped on the roads and pavements have to be regularly collected from at term-ends. The commonest items are beds, mattresses, and chairs/settees. Since the properties are overwhelmingly let as fully furnished, this material must originate from landlords or contractors  working on their behalf. The individual items are relatively light-weight, since they are not purchased to be durable, so the tonnage represents a very large volume of materials. A number of information letters have been mailed out to those landlords who are known, together with information for tenants, and these have undoubtedly helped to some extent. However, the scale of the problem, together with new entrants, which limit the effectiveness of this approach. Additional Licensing, by providing a more structured relationship with more landlords, would facilitate better management of waste.
  • Planning and approved development:
    • There has been a large volume of development pushing the boundary of Permitted Development in almost sequential properties, which has intensified the occupancy of the area. Some typical The layout of properties in Bournbrook is historically very dense, and measures to improve security by providing lockable gates to entries means that the rears of houses may only be viable during redevelopment.  The long back gardens mean that over-development of rear extensions is said to be commonplace and yet almost undetectable  after the event. Some have been observed, e.g. during all out days, but many are said by the local community to pass unnoticed. There are also structures provided for what are described as storage or leisure, i.e. non-residential use. If these were to be subsequently used as sleeping accommodation, obtaining evidence of this would be extremely difficult without additional licensing.
  • Irresponsible construction and misuse of the highway, i.e. skips
    • A number of examples of cases of large-scale and recurring highways obstruction occur during development, such as seen below Birmingham-20120614-00068
    • Builders often order numbers of bulk bags of materials , pallets of bricks/blocks etc, when there is nowhere other than the highway for these to be stored, Despite numerous individual actions actions requiring bags to be removed , together with stopping builders operating concrete mixers on highways and pavements when seen by an authorised officer. The large number of small unconnected building firms, mean that problems recur commonly. Examples being two skips being used where one license is obtained and large overflows of materials, are also attached. Skips are licensed centrally, and a spreadsheet circulated periodically, which shows the array of month cumulatively. Regular observations takes place to record the skips not known to be licensed, and these are reported to Highways colleagues for action as necessary. Sample retrospective checks indicate that around a third of skips are not licensed initially, and keeping some level of control of this without a regular patrol would not be possible, other than by having a more joined-up relationship with a higher percentage of landlords.
  • Fire protection
    • The relative ease currently, of C3 dwellings to C4 mean the Fire Regulations compliance might tend to receive less attention  than the families of the young occupants might desire. The local Fire Service colleagues are very active in face-to-face promotion of safety, backed with leaflets etc during events and all out days.Licensing, however, would allow stricter regulation of fire protection.
  • Poor insulation and heating impacting on health:
    • Problems with dampness and condensation reported in houses, are indicative of poor standards of insulation and ventilation. The problems include ill-health, together with mold and subsequent damage. These  issues are also demonstrated by high domestic fuel use, as evidenced in the report of the research presented to the Royal Geographic Society by De Saska Petrova in July 2012, which evidenced high domestic energy costs. Given the recent nature of most of the development works, the opportunity to install appropriate insulation is clearly not being taken.

Further information

Consulation over additional licensing

Initial consulation – feedback

Additional licensing – overview

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