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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 10 February

10 February 2023

Living in a home which is safe and of a good standard is something that many of us may take for granted.

The reality is that for some people that may not be the case, particularly if they privately rent and their landlord is not keeping their property up to standard.

That’s why we’ve declared it one of our priorities, as part of the 2023/24 budget, to do more to improve the standard of private sector rented housing in the city.

We recently agreed to push forward with a revised selective licensing scheme which requires landlords in certain parts of the city to apply for a licence to prove their accommodation meets certain standards.

We’ve also agreed to look at introducing an additional licensing scheme covering three and four bedroom rental properties with shared amenities which are not covered by selective licensing.

And on Monday, cabinet members will be asked to approve an application to the Government for stricter planning controls, known as Article 4, to better regulate smaller Houses of Multiple Occupation. Initially this will be as a trial in the Hampton, Fletton and Woodston and Park areas of the city.

We’ve chosen these areas following a public consultation which indicated potential issues in these wards. In addition, Fletton and Woodston and Park areas are located close to the university and colleges where HMOs are more likely to be found.

At present, an HMO only requires planning consent when there are six or more unrelated adults living there. The introduction of an Article 4 would mean that smaller HMOs - with three to six unrelated adults - would also be required to apply for planning consent from the council. This means that living standards such as parking, bin storage and noise can be considered – for the benefit of tenants and others living nearby.

Each of these schemes will allow us to better regulate the standard of privately rented housing, making sure residents are living in homes which are acceptable.

We know that Peterborough’s population is growing quickly – the 2021 Census told us that between 2011 and 2021 the population increased from 183,600 to 215,700.

The annual Centre for Cities report, which assesses the economic performance of the 64 largest towns and cities in the UK, has found that we were the second fastest growing city for the same period, just behind Cambridge.

It shows that people are choosing to move to Peterborough and to grow their family here. It’s not surprising when you consider it is the most affordable city to live in the East of England with low house prices and therefore a good house price to earnings ratio – another finding of the Centre for Cities report.

The data also shows that Peterborough had the second highest housing stock growth from 2020-2021, just behind Milton Keynes. This confirms that housebuilders are choosing to invest in the city over other areas.

The annual report tells a good story around business start-ups too, with Peterborough ranked seventh in the country, ahead of Manchester, Milton Keynes, and Leicester.

Fly-tipping is a problem faced by every town and city and sadly Peterborough is no different.

It is a real bug bear of mine as it costs us huge amounts of money every year to clear waste from public land – money better spent providing services for residents –and it ruins the look of our city.

Recently we had a successful outcome in the courts with three separate people admitting using unauthorised waste carriers to dispose of their waste.

In each case, they had paid someone to dispose of their waste who had then gone on to fly-tip it.

When you pay someone to dispose of your waste, it is your responsibility to check that they have a waste carriers' licence to be able to dispose of it correctly.

You can be prosecuted even if your waste is fly-tipped by someone else on your behalf – as the three people we recently took to court learned the hard way! Each of them was more than £400 out of pocket when you add together the fine and court costs.

There are several ways to get rid of your waste legally, such as by visiting the Household Recycling Centre in Fengate or using a licensed waste company. Advice and information about waste disposal is available at www.peterborough.gov.uk

Last week I attended a National Highways regional meeting with other public sector leaders to discuss improvements to the highways network in Peterborough and the eastern region.

I asked about the A47 Longthorpe footbridge replacement works near the City Hospital which have caused delays in recent months and was assured that the works will be completed by the end of March.

The new footbridge will open to the public from Monday (13 Feb), but in order to complete the installation, the existing footpath and bridge will be closed from 7.30am this Saturday (11 February) until Sunday at 9pm.

The A47 will then be closed in both directions between junctions 15 and 16 from 8pm on 17 February to 6am on 20 February, to allow the old footbridge to be demolished.

More information is available at www.nationalhighways.co.uk