University of Birmingham Scheme Faces Delay

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Plans to build hundreds of new student bed spaces in Birmingham could face delay.

The University of Birmingham is looking to construct ten student accommodation blocks with a total of 532 beds, however councillors have voted to delay making a final decision until a site visit is carried out.

The application has already been recommended for approval by planning officers. Under the proposals, 302 bed spaces have been earmarked for the car park site at the Pritchatts Park student village, while 230 units could be delivered adjacent to Ashcroft.

The plans also include a 608-space multi-storey car park, which will replace the existing 289-spaces provided.

Documents submitted as part of the application said: "The detailed design has been developed in consultation with the city and the resulting scheme is considered to be of a high-quality design that would sit comfortably within its surroundings and would have no material adverse impact on adjacent residential occupiers through overlooking and loss of privacy."

The university argues that there is a desire to create a greater level of diversity in accommodation type, as well as provide more affordable bedrooms for new students entering the university.


Concerns Raised Over St Andrews Accommodation

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Students in St Andrews have voiced their concerns over plans to build more student accommodation At Abbey Park.

The Students' Representative Council (SRC) has argued that Robertson's plans to build 100 student bed spaces will not meet the need for purpose-built accommodation in the town and questioned the choice of site.

Paloma Paige, the Student Association president, said: "There is no shortage of high-end student beds in St Andrews, while there is a shortage of low-cost student beds."

"Looking forward, we also want reassurance that the development will provide students with a secure living environment which is also conducive to good relations with the neighbouring residents. As it stands, we are still unconvinced this is an appropriate site for such an environment."

Robertson held information events for the student population, who were able to provide their feedback on the plans and fill in forms to back the application.

Commenting on the scheme, Katherine Mackintosh, managing director of Robertson Property, said: "Robertson is committed to engaging with the community and given that the proposed development includes student accommodation we recently held information events for the student population. During these events, attendees were able to give their feedback."


Progress Slows in Closing the Attainment Gap

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The latest statistical release from UCAS shows that a record 19.7 percent of young people classified as living in the most disadvantaged areas of the UK were accepted through UCAS to start a course in September 2018.

This figure is up 0.4 percentage points from the previous year and represents an increase of 1.8 percent on a proportional basis, compared to 2017.

Despite the increase, those from the most advantaged areas of the UK are 2.3 times more likely to start an undergraduate course than those from the least advantaged areas.

The gap between the most and least advantaged closed slightly in 2018, with 46.5 percent of young people from the most advantaged areas securing a place at university or college. Whilst this represents an increase of 0.4 percentage points, it's a smaller proportional increase (0.8 percent) compared to the rise reported by those from the least advantaged areas.

Women in the UK remain more likely to enter higher education, with 38.3 percent of 18-year olds starting a course, compared to 28.0 percent of men of the same age.

Commenting on the latest findings, Clare Marchant, UCAS' Chief Executive, said: "While it's encouraging to see record levels of students from the most disadvantaged areas going to university, the slow progress in closing the gap is disheartening."

"It's clear that targeted outreach activities need to continue, highlighting to students from all backgrounds the experience, challenge, and opportunities degree study can bring. Our independence puts us in a strong position to provide all universities and colleges with analytical insights to evaluate their work in supporting the most disadvantaged students."


Edinburgh Scheme Refused Planning Permission

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Plans to develop a block of student accommodation in Gorgie Road have been refused planning permission.

Structure House Group was seeking to demolish the existing Scotmid store at 236 Gorgie Road, replacing it with a modern supermarket below a new block of student accommodation.

The 152-bed scheme was to be managed by Structured House Group's property management arm BOHO.

Whilst Manson Architects argued the site would have provided a boost to the local area, councillors refused the plans due to the impact they would have on neighbouring properties.

Commenting on the application, chief planning officers David Leslie, said: "It would offer little in terms of amenity - only eight per cent of the site would be soft landscaping."

"It would lead to quite an enclosed feeling for residents, particularly on the west side of the site. It would have an adverse impact by virtue of its mass, height and footprint."

Meanwhile, planning convener Neil Gardiner added: "I do have concerns about amenity of the tenements particularly in Smithfield Street - it's about 18 metres, window to window."

"I think it's over-development in the back area and it's a substantial reduction in the amenity of largely residential blocks. I think we are undermining the long-term liveability of these flats."


Round Hill and NBK Capital Enter Irish Market

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Round Hill Capital and NBK Capital have agreed to buy a student development in Ireland and aim to add further schemes to their portfolio.

Funds advised by Round Hill and NBKC have acquired the development site in Farranlea Road, Cork. The 1-acre site benefits from existing planning permission for a mixed-use scheme containing a 145-bed purpose-built student accommodation development.

They also plan to develop further PBSAs in Cork, Dublin and Galway, delivering more than 1,200 beds.

Round Hill has reportedly been evaluating the Irish market for some time and has over EUR 1bn of dedicated capital to deploy into the local built-to-rent and purpose-built student accommodation sectors.

Managing director of Round Hill Capital in Ireland, John Vaudin, said: "Thanks to its growing economy, Ireland continues to attract increasing numbers of students, both locally and internationally, and we look forward to playing an integral role as Ireland grows into one of the world's leading university locations."

"We are continuing to build on our residential-led property strategy across Ireland, bringing over EUR 1bn of dedicated capital to deploy into these sectors coupled with our expertise in investing in and operating student accommodation and residential assets across Europe."


Sheffield Accommodation Officially Opens

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A new block of student accommodation in Sheffield has officially opened.

Located in Bramall Lane the seven-storey building, called the Elements, will provide 735 bedrooms.

The accommodation will be managed by Host, the student facing arm of Victoria Hall Management.

The company has a five-year agreement with Sheffield Hallam University to help accommodate its students in the building.

The building officially opened on 29 November and provides a mix of four, five and six bed cluster flats. The en-suite bedrooms will share kitchen and dining facilities and students will have access to an on-site cinema, pool, games room and gym.

Commenting on the scheme, John Nesbitt, managing director of VHML, said: "Victoria Hall are delighted to launch the Elements student accommodation building in Sheffield which we have recently developed on behalf of the Blackrock European Fund and will be managed under our HOST brand."

"We are honoured that Karen Burke, Head of ASRA and Accommodation Services at Sheffield Hallam University officially opened the scheme. We are pleased to have successfully worked in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University and the City Council in helping to deliver their Accommodation Strategy for the city."

"This is a fabulous student accommodation scheme which we believe offers award-winning, high quality accommodation and living experience to Hallam’s students. Host offers hassle-free, all-inclusive student accommodation and provides students with a welcoming, reassuring and stress-free experience at university."


Student Scheme Delivered for Zone Developments

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Stepnell has completed the construction of 85 studios apartments in Leicester's West Walk for Zone Developments.

The student accommodation was designed by MAS Architecture and resulted in the refurbishment of Victorian buildings along with the development of a four-storey block to create accommodation for students in time for the 2018-19 academic year.

It represents the second scheme delivered by Stepnell for Zone, with each bedroom equipped with fully-fitted kitchens and integrated appliances.

The purpose-built student accommodation is within walking distance of both the University of Leicester and De Montfort University. The residence will also feature a gym, cinema room, common room, study pods and on-site laundry facilities.

Commenting on the project, Neil Thakkar of Zone, said: "8 West Walk has significantly extended the options for high-specification contemporary student accommodation in the city centre. We're delighted by the response to the development's stylish studio apartments offering a superb range of amenities."

Stepnell regional director Tom Sewell added: "Benefiting from a brilliant location in the heart of the city centre, the new West Walk accommodation is a fantastic addition to Zone's impressive portfolio of highly desirable student accommodation."

"We're extremely proud to have developed such a successful working relationship with Zone who are helping set new standards for student residences, creating exceptional places in which to live and study."


UCAS Data Highlights Market Trends

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The latest UCAS data shows there has been a 0.6% decline in applications to full-time undergraduate degree courses in the UK for 2018-19.

Despite the fall in applicants to 695,565, the total number of acceptances remained almost unchanged at 533,360, falling just 0.1% year-on-year.

The decline in applicants brings the number to its lowest level since 2013, however this fall is partially attributed to a reduction the population of UK 18-year-olds.

Acceptances from UK domiciled students declined 0.8% from last year, however EU and non-EU acceptances rose 3.8% and 4.9% respectively. This suggests that UK higher education continues to be an attractive option for non-UK applicants, despite concerns that Brexit could lead to a reduction in acceptances.

This year marked the second year since new funding arrangements came into force for nursing and midwifery. This year the number of applicants to nursing courses declined for the second year in a row. The 7.6% fall was much lower than the 17.6% decline reported last year but takes the number of applicants to its lowest point since at least 2010.

Despite a substantial fall in applications, acceptances to nursing and midwifery courses declined by just 0.3% to 28,540, making it the third highest on record.

Meanwhile, analysis of applications and offers continues to highlight increased competition in the market. Between 2012-2018 applications to lower tariff institutions have fallen by 8.9%, whilst offers have risen by 3.8%. This suggests lower tariff institutions are broadening their offers to combat a reduction in underlying demand.

In comparison, over the same period applications to higher tariff institutions have risen 20.3%, whilst offers have grown 32.4%.

Unconditional offers are also on the rise, which again may reflect an increasingly competitive market, as institutions vie for students.

The number of unconditional offers made to 18-year old applicants has risen from 2,985 in 2013 to 67,915 in 2018. Unconditional offers now account for 7.1% of all offers made to this age group, compared to 0.4% in 2013.


Legal & General Funds Scottish Development

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On behalf of its LPI (Limited Price Inflation) Income Property Fund, Legal & General has agreed to fund a new block of student accommodation for a top Scottish University.

Lincam Pentland Ltd, a subsidiary of S1 Developments Limited, has completed the sale of the proposed 359-bed purpose-built student accommodation, on a forward funding basis for a purchase price of around £35 million.

Dubbed Pentland House, the accommodation will be leased to the unnamed university on a 20-year full repairing and insuring lease on completion of the development. The scheme is due to be finished by September 2020, with work be carried out by S1 Developments.

Commenting on the deal, Derek Gilby, Senior Fund Manager of the LPI Income Property Fund, said: "The quality and affordability of accommodation can represent a large factor for students when deciding where they want to go to University. We believe that quality facilities that are affordable for students can help to provide a quality education. This is an excellent buy for the fund, offering a secure long-term income stream which provides a hedge to inflation from a top investment grade University."

Meanwhile, Dan Teague of S1 Developments added: "We are delighted to have concluded this transaction with Legal & General who are a perfect partner for ourselves. We will be providing exceptional accommodation for the University in time for the 2020/21 academic year. We are known for providing best in class housing and we hope for the same reputation within the commercial property world."


Index Points to Strong Returns in The Capital

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The newly released CBRE Student Accommodation Index has reported capital increases in the sector of 6.5% year-on-year for the 12-month period ending September 2018.

The rise in capital values for the period ending September 2018 is above the figure of 4.5% recorded in the previous year.

On a gross and net basis, rents increased 3.0% and 3.4% respectively, with annual total returns at a national level reported at 12.3% for the year to September 2018.

The index is split into Central London and Regional geographies, which is then categorised as Super Prime, Prime, and Secondary.

Student accommodation in central London outperformed regional locations due to capital value growth of 12.4%. Central London student accommodation annual total returns reached 17.5% for the year, compared to 14.2% in the previous 12 months.

Total returns for regional student accommodation reached 10.5%, with capital growth recorded at 4.5%.

Student properties located in Super Prime towns recorded capital growth of 11.1%, compared to an increase of 6.0% in Prime Regional locations and a fall of 9.0% in Secondary towns.

Net rental growth in Super Prime and Prime Regional towns for the 12 months was reported at 3.6% and 3.9% respectively, but for Secondary locations it declined 1.5% year-on-year.

The largest assets performed best over the period, with those consisting of 500 beds or more reporting capital value growth of 7.2%, pushing total returns to 12.9%. This compares to total returns for small and medium sizes assets of 11.6% and 12.2% respectively.


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