‘Blight’ of rental housing boards

For Let signs on Crookes Road, Crookes.
For Let signs on Crookes Road, Crookes.

Calls are growing for greater curbs on ‘to let’ boards that residents claim are blighting Sheffield suburbs popular with students.

A petition will go before the council next month, asking leaders to follow the example set by Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which successfully applied to the Government for powers to control the advertising boards used by letting agents.

Supporters want action to be taken in areas with high student populations, such as Walkley, Crookes, Hunters Bar, Broomhill and Sharrow, amid fears the signs attract burglars and spoil the appearance of streets.

Tony Flatley, who lives in Walkley and set up the petition, said: “We have got a big problem in Sheffield, largely around areas with a lot of rented accommodation.

“With the number of ‘to let’ boards that are up, it’s the visual impact, but it’s also the fact that actually it’s a burglar’s paradise.

“It highlights areas where burglars can go in and steal while the houses are empty.”

Mr Flatley’s petition says residents are ‘concerned that the quality of the residential environment is deteriorating as a result of the boards’, and that ‘this is having an impact on the housing market’.

The retired 57-year-old said in other areas around the country where similar problems have arisen, councils have eventually been able to take control after getting special powers from the Government.

Some, including Newcastle Council, initially attempted to sign agents up to a voluntary agreement to remove advertising boards shortly after a property was let.

But after this only proved partly successful, they applied to the secretary of state for communities and local government for powers to restrict the number of boards that could be put up.

Mr Flatley said there was evidence to suggest that most people looking for rented accommodation – and students in particular – found properties online, rather than from advertising boards, so new restrictions would not affect agents too much.

“For the people that live in these areas, it actually has quite a large impact,” said Mr Flatley.

“My petition will go in front of Sheffield Council on February 1.

“The point for me is just to get discussion started.

“Local councillors weren’t aware of what had happened in Newcastle.”