Wednesday 22 May 2024
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Nottingham is short of 5,500 student beds

There is an estimated shortfall in the city of 5,500 beds, Nottingham City Council says.

Nottingham’s director of planning is confident the city can avoid a student housing crisis despite the number of students arriving to study outstripping what has been described as the largest accommodation development pipeline outside of London.

In 2015 the Government lifted a cap which allowed universities to increase the numbers of students admitted each year.

Across the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, there has been an approximate 30 per cent increase in students needing accommodation between 2016  and 2022.


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The shortfall is despite there being 10,000 bed spaces in the development pipeline, which the universities say is the largest in the UK outside of London.


Paul Seddon, the director of planning and regeneration at the council, said:

“What we haven’t been able to do is make sure every additional student in Nottingham coming to study has had a bed space in a new purpose-built scheme.

“That has been our aim to at least achieve that but the growth in numbers has outstripped what has been a significant number of new accommodation schemes coming through.”

student radford 2

Despite the shortfall, Mr Seddon says the city has so far managed to stave off crises seen in other cities such as Durham, where a lack of housing and soaring rents forced students to queue for hours outside estate agents in a bid to secure accommodation.

He says this has been achieved by having what he describes as “the best monitoring data of any city” in the country and close ties with both universities.

Legislation to prevent family houses being changed into student homes has also enabled the council to avoid losing houses intended for other people.

Conygar student living scheme will be beacon for Nottingham credit DAY Architectural

“The reason we’ve been able to hold that line is because we have aimed deliberately in the policy to support the new purpose-built,” Mr Seddon says.

“We know the position in Nottingham better than anywhere else, which has meant that we were able to not have the crisis that other cities have had.

“I am acutely aware, as are portfolio holders and councillors in the city council, there is quite a bit of sensitivity around student accommodation, but Government make it crystal clear we have to plan, we are expected to plan, to meet student housing needs.

Student blocks going up in Queens Road Nottingham scaled

“If we don’t get the numbers of the purpose-built, specifically for students, right, and we don’t get it so there is good, healthy competition in terms of price, then that will translate to pushing up rents and competition for those other places that have got no planning control like two-bedroom apartments in the city.

“That’s the kind of thing we are trying to head-off across the whole of the housing market.”

There is a significant pipeline of planned purpose-built students blocks, such as a now-delayed scheme in Queen’s Road and a three-storey block in Faraday Road, Lenton.

Both universities, in a joint statement, say they are working collaboratively with the council to “ensure Nottingham realises the many socio-economic benefits that students bring without putting pressure on the city’s housing stock”.

This includes having more than 10,000 purpose-built student accommodation bed spaces in the private rental market pipeline, a figure understood to be the largest development pipeline in the UK outside of London.

The council also claims it is “ahead of target” in terms of new homes for non-students.

These include 85 residential apartments at the old petrol station site on London Road, hundreds of homes at Waterside, 106 houses at Eastglade in Top Valley, 88 houses at Denewood Crescent, Bilborough and 291 houses Padstow, Bestwood.

As such Mr Seddon says he is “as confident as I can be that we will avoid what has happened in some of the other cities more recently”.

He added: “It’s often easy to say ‘no’ to things if there is a vocal objection, and often a vocal minority, but there is still the understanding that this needs to happen fundamentally, so the support in difficult decisions is still there from Nottingham’s planning committee,” he added.

“But their expectations are very high, as you saw with Queen’s Road, with what gets built in the city and that it has got to look great.

“There is plenty of room but it will be about having a denser city centre, inevitably that is going to be taller buildings, but we will protect the heart of the city centre and those views, that character that Nottingham has got that is unique, we know where we can enable and allow bigger buildings to happen.”

But Giles Inman, of landlord association EMPO, fears Nottingham may one day be faced with an over-abundance of student blocks, with little scope to change their use, as he claims has happened in the past in Leicester.

“In terms of re-letting student homes to families, the costs of running and heating these old Victorian HMOs (House of Multiple Occupation) are astronomical, they are never going to go be re-let as family homes,” he said.

“The student landlords we represent say they are seeing no decline in demand for HMO-style accommodation.

“Purpose-built is a lot more expensive than HMOs, with the cost of living crisis even students will have to start looking at what they are spending.

“Some of these blocks can charge between £150 to £160 per week. HMOs start from £60.

“Students are citizens. There are 60,000-plus in Nottingham and we need to start celebrating that fact rather than continually berating them.

“The council has no choice to put them up in blocks because they have put these planning restrictions in. Blocks have a very, very tight financial model and even with competition they will struggle to reduce rents because of the overheads.

“Who knows what is going to happen the way the economy is going. In Leicester they are struggling with under-occupancy, where the council has just bought a block for £5.5m.”

In a joint statement the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University said: “Investment and regeneration in Nottingham is a strong vote of confidence in a growing city with two world-class universities which continue to be a vibrant and popular choice for those who come here to live, learn and grow, supporting local jobs and services.

“Our universities and the city council are working closely together to develop a Student Living Strategy, a new strategic approach to developing mixed communities, which support the health, well-being and potential of all residents, where individuals are treated with equity, giving and receiving mutual respect for the benefit of all.

“Our strong collaborative relationships with the city and the development of our shared student living strategy will continue to balance demand to ensure that Nottingham realises the many socio-economic benefits that students bring without putting pressure on the city’s housing stock.”

  •  Plans to extend Lenton student accommodation

•  Historic Hockley building to become student apartments

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