Belfast Student Accommodation Approved
18th Jan 2017
A major student accommodation development in Belfast was given the go ahead this week.
The 11-storey block brings the total number of student beds approved by the Council since it took over planning powers in April 2015 to around 5,500.
Under the plans the vacant building on the site will be demolished to make way for the new student housing. Designed by architects Robinson McIlwaine, the proposals also encompass three retail outlets and a gym.
The plans had originally been for a 14-storey development, but were subsequently reduced in scale.
Developers suggested the project represents a "stylish landmark" and it could be worth around £30m. They also expect to create around 250 construction jobs during the two-year build period.
Planners said of the scheme: "Having regard to the policy context and other material considerations above, the proposal is considered acceptable and planning permission should be approved, as the building reflects the scale and size of other surrounding structures."
Many of the student developments already given the green light are located in and around the York Street area, close to the new Ulster University Campus.
Glasgow's oldest pub is under threat of demolition after an application was submitted for new student accommodation in the city centre.
The plans call for the construction of a 12-storey block to be located on the junction of High Street, Duke Street and George Street, with a total of 326 cluster flats and 100 self-contained studios. Because of the development, the Old College bar situated at 219 High Street would be flattened.
The pub is said to have opened in the early 19th century before being granted its licence in 1812, and has remained in place ever since. Despite its history, the Old College Bar remains unlisted, although the planning application submitted in December does note that it is within a conservation area.
Developers Structured House have described the bar and its surrounding buildings as "detrimental to surroundings visually, economically and in urban design terms" suggesting the student development will "enhance the existing character or the conservation area".
The application will now go before Glasgow City Council with a decision expected by mid-February.
At the same time The Press Bar on Albion Street also faces demolition. The bar was once the favoured establishment for the city's journalists, including those from the Daily Express, the Herald and Evening times, which were previously situated in neighbouring properties.
The latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) indicates that the proportion of students leaving university with top honours has risen in the past five years to record highs.
HESA have reported that almost one in four (24%) students who were awarded a degree graduated with a first last year, compared with 17% in 2011-12.
The figures also show a rise in the number of students achieving a 2:1, with 73% of students in 2015-16 achieving an upper second award, compared to 66% five years earlier.
Further analysis shows a drop in the proportion of students awarded lower honours, with 22% of students achieving a 2:2 in 2015-16, and just 5% graduating with a third.
Graduate recruiters suggest there is no way of telling whether individual universities are becoming more generous in their awarding of degrees or whether standards are genuinely rising. There does however appear to be a trend in employers seeking more than a particular degree classification.
Employers have realised if they use a blunt cut-off such as a 2:1 or above they're missing out on some excellent candidates, and therefore degree classification for some recruiters has become less important.
In 2015 the global firm Ernst and Young announced its plans to remove academic and education details, including degree classifications, from its trainee application process and would decide who to interview based on candidates' performance in online tests.
Councillors in Newcastle have been urged to approve a plan which aims to bring greater control over the number of student flats being built in the city.
At the same time, Newcastle City Council's planning committee are assessing a pair of new student accommodation blocks, which if approved would lead to a further 451 student bedrooms being built across Ouseburn and the city centre.
After six weeks of consultation with businesses, experts and residents, the council's cabinet will decide this week on whether to amend its 'Maintaining Sustainable Communities' policy which councillors argue will protect the city centre from excessive purpose-built student accommodation.
If the plans go ahead, developers will need to demonstrate their conversion or new build won't lead to an over-concentration of such developments that "could be harmful to the area's vibrancy, environmental quality and residential amenity".
The design and quality of the buildings will also be more stringently checked. In particular, purpose-built student accommodation will need to show it could be suitable for conversion into more traditional homes, to prevent the city being lumbered with empty buildings should demand for student housing change.
The council adopted a similar policy in 2011, introducing new rules to limit the number of homes in areas like Jesmond being converted to flats aimed at students.
Subsequently a boom in purpose-built accommodation close to the city centre has resulted in 9,500 new beds being created since 2007, with planning permission for more than 5,000 additional beds.
The updated policy still aims to protect areas where family homes could be built, with greater controls on the creation of large student blocks.
Ged Bell, cabinet member for investment and development said of the proposals: "Clearly now is the time to update our policies, and it's vitally important we are able to provide the right type of accommodation to suit the needs of all the communities we serve, to make sure Newcastle is an attractive place to study, live and work."
The University of London is to build a 33-storey student accommodation block in Stratford, representing the first property acquisition by the university in half a century.
The £150 million building named Duncan House, was bought in partnership with University Partnership Programmes and will consist of 511 student bedrooms as well as communal space.
Chris Cobb, pro vice-chancellor and chief operating officer of the University of London, said: "This is an exciting and significant investment for the University. It's the first major property that we've acquired in 50 years and the first outside of central London.
"This investment continues our trajectory of offering students quality accommodation which balances affordability with low travel times to their place of study."
Mr Cobb also indicated that this latest development highlights their continued commitment to modernise and expand their property portfolio to meet the needs of future generations of students.
Sean O'Shea, group chief executive officer of UPP, added: "The University of London is a world-renowned institution and we are delighted to have reached financial close on this landmark transaction in east London.
"Located in the heart of Stratford, this exciting scheme will offer future generations of students' competitively priced accommodation and facilities of the highest quality."
According to forecasts produced by the Higher Education Policy Institute, a tougher stance by the Home Office towards overseas students studying at UK universities could cost the country up to £2bn a year.
The report also found that UK higher education could increase revenue from higher fees for foreign students after Britain leaves the EU, but the potential gains would be wiped out if the government insists on tightening student visa numbers.
Commenting on the report, director of Hepi, Nick Hillman said: "Were the Home Office to conduct yet another crackdown on international students, then the UK could lose out on £2bn a year just when we need to show we are open for business like never before."
Mr Hillman suggested an easy and costless solution would be to remove international students from the net migration target, which would also signal a change in direction.
The study examined what the impact could be if further efforts were made to restrict student visas as part of the government's larger strategy to force down immigration. It found that approximately 20,000 students could be deterred, and although universities would lose around £500m a year in fees, the wider UK economy could lose a further £600m a year in reduced spending.
However, the largest loss would be over £900m a year foregone in what the report described as "the detrimental impact on universities' supply chains" through lost spending and the "indirect and induced effects" on the UK economy related to this source of export income.
Deputy chief executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, said the report provides a "stark" warning of the possible economic loss associated with policies that restrict European or international student numbers. He argued that if universities are to continue to boost the economy and benefit communities, they will need the right support from government.
Developers have submitted plans to create a 2,000-bed student village at Treluswell near Penryn.
Development company Ocean Reach Ltd has applied for outline planning permission to build a mixed-use site, named Penvose Student Village.
Located on 20 hectares of land between Treluswell Hill and the A39, the development would consist of student accommodation able to house 2,000 students along with up to 400 student parking spaces. The site will also come equipped with a 450-place park-and-ride, sports facilities and a student commercial area including shops, restaurants, university office space and a GP surgery.
If given the go ahead the site, which encircles a group of houses by the A39, would require a new roundabout access from the road. There will also be improved cycle routes to the campus and Penryn town centre via Treliever.
According to the design and access statement submitted as part of the application, the village would provide "essential infrastructure" to support the university, as well as "significant employment opportunities".
CAD Architects acting on behalf of the developers said: "The proposed development seeks to present a modern, efficient and exemplary student village development which is highly respectful of its semi-rural/open countryside setting, seeking to minimise the impact of the scheme on the local landscape both spatially and visually."
The application is set to be determined by April 13.
The approval of a student accommodation block in Exeter has sparked a debate into whether the city needs such developments.
The development in question is that of the former pub in Paris Street, which will be demolished and replaced by a six-storey block with 107 bedrooms. It will also include a private gym, cinema, laundry room and common room.
Despite the application receiving 38 objections and a 2,297-signature petition against the plans, councillors on the planning committee voted to allow the scheme.
Some have argued whether the recent growth in purpose-built student accommodation is necessary, whilst others say it helps take the pressure off the city's existing housing stock.
A University of Exeter spokesman said: "As a world-leading university, Exeter attracts students and staff from around the world, and they contribute significantly to the local economy and the community.
"We are working to accommodate more students on campus. In recent years we have built £130 million worth of new accommodation for 2,600 students. New developments are planned on the Streatham Campus which will provide accommodation for around 1,500 students.
The university continued, saying: "Decisions on whether private developments for student-focused accommodation within the city are appropriate are for the relevant planning authority to make, having taken into consideration the views of local residents."
A planning officer's report, recommending the approval of the development, indicated that despite the objections raised, the university's growth plans mean "significantly" more additional bedrooms will be required and therefore applications for purpose-built student accommodation should be welcomed on appropriate sites.
The US private equity firm Starwood Capital Group has entered the UK student accommodation market with the £120 million purchase of a six-asset portfolio.
The portfolio is understood to consist of 1,595 beds and comprises of Haymarket in Edinburgh, Chestnut House in Cambridge, The Walls in Southampton, St James House in Glasgow and Union Square and Stepney Yard, both in Newcastle.
In a new joint venture with Round Hill Capital, the six-asset portfolio will be managed through Round Hill's operational brand, Nido Collection.
The deal is the first for Starwood in the UK student housing sector, who already own nearly 7,000 student beds in the US.
Commenting on the deal, the company's head of European acquisitions Zsolt Kohalmi said: "We believe that the UK is and will continue to be one of the top educational destinations for international students.
"We are excited to work with Round Hill Capital and Nido as our partners on this investment, which boasts assets in superb locations and strong student markets."
In addition to the existing six schemes the joint venture has also entered into a forward funded deal for the acquisition of a development scheme in Newcastle, which is expected to be delivered in time for the 2018-19 academic year.
Newcastle-based property firm Adderstone Group has reported an increase in profits of 38% year-on-year, driven by a number of delivered assets.
The firm reported profits of £4.33m, on the back of consolidated turnover of £35m for the year ending March 2016.
Adderstone said it continues to re-invest profits generated into group activities and has purchased a number of significant assets for investment and re-development purposes during the period.
Over the past 12 months the company has delivered a number of projects in the region including the 266 bed Stepney Yard student accommodation and the 42 bed Union Studios development.
John Armstrong, Group Finance Director, said: "The impressive results for the year have been achieved despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit. We are already forecasting further growth in 2017/18, demonstrating that the strategy of refocusing on our core development and investment specialisms is working."
Mr Armstrong also noted that in November 2016 alone, the company secured planning for developments worth a gross value of £70m.
Adderstone Group's development team continues to work with city planners in regards to their proposed Christon Park and North Shore developments. Christon Park is a brownfield housing development situated on the site of the former Greggs bakery in Gosforth and North Shore is a 16 storey landmark apartment development on Newcastle Quayside.
Outside of the region, Adderstone Group is about to submit a planning application for a residential tower in Salford and has embarked on a luxury housing scheme in Bermondsey, London, which will be delivered before the summer.
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