Speaking on behalf of the Confederation of St Andrews Resident’s Associations, David Middleton, chairman, commented:
“The policy approved by the Community and Housing Services Committee on 11th April marks an important milestone in the efforts which have been made by CSARA over the past fifteen years to limit the growth of HMOs. The progressive “studentification” of the town centre where about 80% of the population are students was the first indication that St Andrews was becoming an unsustainable community. The proliferation of HMOs was spreading to the suburbs, with former social housing south of the Kinnessburn becoming a prime target for buy-to-let landlords who could obtain a rent of £1,800 per month for a three-apartment former council house”.
“Over time, the effect of the unfettered HMO market has reduced the population of St Andrews as residents were replaced by students, school roles plummeted and one primary school was closed”.
“The Planning Moratorium adopted by the Council seven years ago gave some relief to the town centre but was only partially successful as not all HMOs required planning permission. Legislation adopted by the Scottish Parliament in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 provided a stronger basis for effective action to avoid overprovision of HMOs and linked this with the planning system to provide a coordinated approach to HMO licensing. It should be noted that during the passage of the Housing Bill, the legislation was steered through parliament by local MSP Ted Brocklebank, who quoted St Andrews as a prime example of why an overprovision policy was needed. The overprovision statute received virtually unanimous support in the parliament”.
“The Housing Act made it clear that the need for HMOs must be assessed within the need for all categories of people in a locality. While students were generally well provided for and there was no shortage of student accommodation, house prices were put out of reach of many families and 160 former council houses were converted to HMOs, while 360 people were on the waiting list for social housing”.
“There is every reason to welcome the policy adopted unanimously on 11th April as a first step in the movement towards a more mixed sustainable community. Firm support was provided by our St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson, who effectively presented the case for a nil increase policy at the decision-making meeting and East Neuk Councillor Linda Holt spoke strongly against diluting the policy by allowing a poorly researched study, produced at the last minute by the University to influence the decision”.
The University study on “Locked Bedrooms” has been reported elsewhere on St Andrews QV.