Anger over local bedsit '˜epidemic'

A residents' group is re-launching with a meeting and a dramatic spike in flats, bedsits and homes for rent is expected to top the agenda.

Monday, 27th November 2017, 3:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:03 pm
Steve Denton

Swinley Residents’ Working Group is getting up and running again to deal with issues in the area and will meet at Wigan Baptist Church on Monday night.

Committee member Steve Denton says one of the most pressing problems in the area is the number of homes and former business properties being converted into houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), particularly on Upper Dicconson Street.

He says the influx of tenants, many on short-term contracts, is changing the character of the area and residents are very unhappy, also accusing the council of failing to listen to local concerns.

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Mr Denton said: “Some of the tenants you see going for walks at three and four o’clock in the morning. It’s not good.

“Everybody here is just fed up to the back teeth with this. We understand people need properties to live in but more than 50 per cent of the buildings on this street now must be HMOs. We’ve had enough.

“A lot of the properties on Upper Dicconson Street are perfect for this because you can get seven to 10 people into them and we’re now at saturation point.

“We don’t feel safe because we don’t know who our neighbours are and we feel Wigan Council is not listening to us.

“It’s just getting worse and worse all the time and we’re not prepared to accept it any more.”

Mr Denton echoed concerns raised earlier this year by Upper Dicconson Street resident Sara Coburn that many of the alterations to turn former family homes into rental properties were not in keeping with the conservation area and unsuitable for listed buildings.

Unhappy residents also accused Wigan Council of ignoring the objections to one property being converted into an HMO and claimed the notice for public consultation on another planning application only appearing on the door of the building in question after the deadline for comment had passed.

However, the town hall has strongly denied all the allegations of wrongdoing and said officers made decisions that fitted with planning law.

Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing at Wigan Council, said: “Any HMO with more than six bedrooms requires planning permission and we assess applications against our planning policies.

“With regards to the recent planning application, we notified the immediate neighbours, put up two site notices on October 19 and included a notice in the press, which is in line with our code of practice for consultation on planning applications.

“We did receive early comments on this application, which included acknowledgement from residents of these notices.

“We are confident that we have consulted within our statutory duty and have followed national planning policy.

“We are not aware of any unauthorised work on listed buildings on Upper Dicconson Street but if residents have evidence that this has taken place, we do encourage them to contact us.”

Breaches of planning can be reported at www.wigan.gov.uk under the Planning and Building Control tab.

The group meets on Monday at 7.30pm.