Families flee Pinderfields Road in Wakefield as area plagued by drugs, crime and rubbish, meeting told

Families living on a terraced street are being plagued by crime, rubbish and drugs on a daily basis, it's been claimed.

By David Spereall
Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:23 pm
Pinderfields Road stretches from the north of Wakefield city centre, to the edge of Pinderfields Hospital's grounds.
Pinderfields Road stretches from the north of Wakefield city centre, to the edge of Pinderfields Hospital's grounds.

Pinderfields Road in Wakefield has deteriorated so badly, many long-term residents have fled the area, a meeting was told on Thursday.

The street, which is just to the north of the city's bus station and runs to the edge of Pinderfields Hospital's grounds, is "stretched to its limits", one local councillor suggested.

The area's issues were discussed as a bid to turn a property into a seven-bed house of multiple occupancy (HMO) was rejected.

Objectors to the HMO application said law-abiding neighbours were struggling to cope in the area.

Campaigners blame the huge increase in the number of HMOs on Pinderfields Road and the surrounding College Grove area for the problems.

The meeting was told there are already 12 such properties on Pinderfields Road alone.

Local community worker Muhammad Ayu, who objected to the application, said flattering pictures of the street shown at the meeting didn't offer a true reflection of the problems.

He said: "When you've got 10 people drinking there all night, it's not a pretty place, and that's a regular occurence.

Conservative councillor Akef Akbar spoke out against the plans, saying the area was "stretched to its limits".

"None of these problems have been addressed or resolved over the last 10 years."

Mr Ayu said that those living in HMOs often spilled out onto the street because of a lack of communal indoor space and explained this was "intimidating" law-abiding neighbours.

He added: "People don't even feel safe walking down from their homes to the local shop.

"People just want a safer, cleaner place to live."

Labour councillor Olivia Rowley said people were living in a state of "chaos and unhappiness" on the street.

It was suggested that landlords were putting profit ahead of the needs of the community, with Mr Ayu claiming one property owner had told him he could make "two or three times more income" by converting the house into an HMO.

Mr Ayu also said that vulnerable people causing the issues were not being given enough support and some were selling items they pick up from local foodbanks, to pay for drugs.

Wakefield East councillors Akef Akbar (Conservative) and Olivia Rowley (Labour), both spoke out against the proposals too.

Coun Akbar told the meeting: "These homes are not fit to accommodate so many people.

"College Grove is being squeezed and stretched to its limits."

A total of 56 objections were lodged against the plans, which Coun Akbar said, "spoke volumes".

Coun Rowley said people's lives were being made "intolerable" by the issues.

"At the moment, it's appallingly bad," she said.

"We've got an over-occupation of an area that was never built or designed for all these people.

"It's causing chaos and unhappiness for the people who live there."

The house itself is already a six-bed HMO, because developers don't need planning permission for a conversion of that size.

Only when they want more than six beds do they need consent from the local authority.

Wakefield Council's planning officers had recommended the application be approved. They cited the minimal difference in impact between a six and seven-bed property and suggesting granting permission would allow them to apply conditions and have more oversight of the issues raised.

But councillors were unimpressed, with Labour's Elaine Blezard likening the home's basement bedrooms, with a lack of natural light, to "little dungeons".

Coun David Jones said the lack of government regulation around HMOs indicated a "return to 19th century housing practices, which we tried to get rid of during the 20th century."

Neither the applicants, Hakiba Property Ltd, nor anyone else attended the meeting to speak in favour of the proposal.

Councillors unanimously rejected it.

Local Democracy Reporting Service