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Canon Hill residents petition against student house conversion plans

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Over 120 residents of Canon Hill have now signed a petition against plans to convert a local two-bed bungalow into a 10-bedroom shared house for students from Warwick University.

They hope the petition will urge local government to stop the plan and put the residents’ concerns ahead of those of property developers “cashing in on the demand for student accommodation.”

The petition was started by Graham Morrall, who lives opposite the proposed student development in one of six bungalows built by the city council for the elderly and families with a disability needs.

The student property plans are the latest in a long line of applications by developers to convert family homes in the Coventry and Leamington area into profitable student houses, or Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

Earlier this month, the approval of a new student development in Leamington Spa resulted in a number of objections from local residents. In response to the so-called saturation of local areas with student properties, the District Council is considering a new strategy to control HMOs and tackle issues of waste management, noise and antisocial behaviour.

Further developments have also been proposed in Coventry, with a planning permission recently granted to convert the old hospital building into student flats.

The Canon Hill petition has now been passed to local Conservative councillor John Blundell, who will then pass on the signed petition to the Coventry City Council’s planning committee.

These are businesses, motivated purely by profit, exploiting planning rules to build what are, by any other name, student motels.

Speaking to the Coventry Telegraph about the petition, local resident Steve Chilton said: “People here are not anti-student. This area has a long tradition – stretching back to the days of Canley Teacher Training College – of residents letting rooms out to students.”

“But that is not what we are seeing now. These are businesses, motivated purely by profit, exploiting planning rules to build what are, by any other name, student motels.”

Some residents have also called on Warwick University to review its policy on student accommodation in residential areas. For Chilton, “Warwick University is a silent partner in many of the HMO conversions [as they serve] a crucial link in the commercial chain for mainly absent owners.”

However, a University of Warwick spokesman said: “The university currently has no connection with the property and that it is up to Coventry City Council to decide whether to grant planning permission for the change.”

“For residents, it’s much better if we are letting a property to students rather than a private landlord, as if any problems occur residents can come to us and we can resolve them.”

The application to convert the bungalow was made by Birmingham-based M & S Property. They are currently seeking permission to extend the rear of the property, adding a further six bedrooms to the ground floor and four in the roof.

The planning committee will meet later this year where they will issue their verdict on the petition before declaring their decision on the student housing conversion proposals.

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