674-bed Oxford Development Receives Strong Criticism

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Plans for a 674-bed student accommodation and retail scheme in Oxford have been labelled as a catastrophe after developers revealed their plans for the first time.

Local residents and councillors spoke out as plans for a major development on the 3.9 acre Cowley Barracks site in Oxford were put on display.

Developers revealed that to tackle potential traffic issues, Oxford Brookes University students would not be allowed to have cars while studying, however councillors argued this was unenforceable.

In particular they referred to Slade Park, which was supposed to be car-free but Oxford Brookes wasn't able to enforce the rules meaning people still had cars.

Councillor Liz Brighouse said: "The road infrastructure just can't support this level of development. We can't take any more development that's going to bring more traffic to the area.

"People are having real problems here because the roads are just swamped with traffic. I will be fighting against it. What we need here is affordable family housing, not student housing."

Developers argued that the scheme would meet a clear demand for additional student housing. In regards to the concerns over parking, developers BT said it would be treated like a tenancy agreement, and that students could be removed if they were found to be in breach of the rules.

International Students Not Exempt from Immigration Figures

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The government has confirmed it is categorically not reviewing whether foreign students should be excluded from net migration figures.

A spokesman for the prime minister clarified the government's position after earlier saying there would be an overall review of immigration policy. The chancellor had also suggested foreign students and highly skilled workers are not a major area of concern.

Despite the government being committed to bringing net migration down to below 100,000, last year the Office for National Statistics estimate net migration rose to 333,000 representing the second highest figure on record.

Speaking at the Treasury Select Committee, Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs: "When the public tells us loudly and clearly that they have a problem with levels of migration, it is very clear to me that they are not talking about computer programmers, brain surgeons, bankers, senior managers and possibly students."

However, later a statement released by Downing Street said: "The government objective is to reduce annual net migration to the tens of thousands, and in order to deliver this we are keeping all visa routes under review.

"Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included."

It appears that Theresa May's stance on resisting calls for international students to be exempt from immigration numbers has not changed since becoming PM, despite what appears to be differing opinions coming from chancellor Hammond.

Exeter Uni Proposes Huge On-campus Accommodation

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Outline application plans have been put forward to develop brand new student accommodation and associated infrastructure at the University of Exeter's Streatham campus.

The development is to be located at East Park on a large plot of land, south of Higher Hoopern Lane. The site is currently being used as farmland.

The Hoopern Valley Walk runs along part of the western boundary of the site. However, the university has suggested it is a permissive access arrangement and there is no definitive public right of way.

The proposals aim to strengthen the University's commitment to reducing pressure on the city's housing stock by accommodating more of its students on campus.

Director of Estate Services, Hugh McCann said: "We have identified sites for development at the University since the 1970s and our 2010 Masterplan further developed these plans.

"The University continues to be a global success and attract students and staff from around the world, and we are keen to offer additional on-campus accommodation and see these three projects supporting our demand over the next five years, improving both the quality and range of student residences."

According to the University, the institution has already shown its commitment to reducing pressure on local housing stock by investing £130 million into new student accommodation on its Streatham Campus, providing housing for 2,600 students.

If the plan gets the go-ahead it's expected to be operational in September 2019.

Nottingham's Guildhall Site Sold for Redevelopment

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Nottingham City Council has agreed to sell the 1.4-acre Guildhall site on Burton Street, to Miller Birch, paving the way for its £110m development.

The proposals call for the site to be developed into a mix of Grade A offices, student accommodation, conferencing facilities and to extend and refurbish Guildhall as a four-star hotel.

The plan to develop Guildhall is part of a wider strategic regeneration of the city to help build a better Nottingham. This includes the development of high quality office spaces, retail opportunities, transport links and high quality new homes such as those just opened at Trent Basin.

Miller Birch is hoping to be on site, starting work by 2018. The company says the site will be one of the largest developments ever seen in Nottingham.

The building has previously been a criminal and magistrates court up to 1995. According to Councillor Graham Chapman, Deputy Leader of the City Council: "The Guildhall site is a unique one with a lot of history. I'm delighted Miller Birch are committed to providing a quality development the site deserves.

"The sale of the Guildhall site means more businesses, visitors and jobs will come to the city through the development of this site. The plans from Miller Birch are a good example of our plan to grow the city and we're looking forward to seeing their development of the Guildhall progressing now."

Landlords to Be Banned from Renting Tiny Bedrooms

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Under Government plans rogue landlords will be banned from renting tiny bedrooms and licencing rules will be extended to cover flats above shops.

Measures being planning by Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell could also include the "fit and proper person" test for landlords being tightened up, with more stringent criminal record checks.

Under the plans, which will only apply in England, the minimum room size allowed in shared homes will be 6.52 square metres.

According to Mr Barwell: "In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live. These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area.

"By driving rogue landlords that flout the rules out of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need."

A consultation on the proposals also sets out plans to ensure mandatory licensing rules apply to all shared homes with five or more people from two or more households.

The rules will also apply to flats above and below shops as well as other business premises. At present licensing only applies for homes with three or more floors and excludes properties attached to businesses, unless they are in a three storey building.

Ministers are also discussing whether the current licensing rules for purpose-built student accommodation are appropriate.

Manchester University Secures EU Project Funding

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Manchester Metropolitan University has secured funding for three projects that will help the institution strengthen its European ties.

The first scheme, the Small and Medium Enterprises Growth Access Gap Project (SME), is one of just eighteen projects approved across the EU and involves working with the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Hub, in conjunction with an NGO in Austria and a Regional Authority in Spain.

The two other projects which have secured funding, the Digital Transformation of European Micro Enterprises (DiTEM) and the Sustainability Alliance of Urban Networks in Asian Cities (SAUNAC), both help strengthen the links between Europe and the university.

SAUNAC and SME both directly fund the Erasmus+ scheme with 1 million Euros, and seemingly secure it for the foreseeable future for Manchester Metropolitan University students.

The news will come as a relief to students, who have faced uncertainty as to whether the Erasmus+ scheme is sustainable in the UK after the country decided to leave the EU. However, it's not yet clear if funding for these specific projects will be repeated elsewhere across British universities.

Jennie Shorely, Head of Bids and Partnerships for the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University said: "These exciting opportunities represent exciting new global partnerships for the university, stretching across Europe to Vietnam. We are looking forward to working with all partners to support the development of SMEs, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship skills and to consolidate our current working relationships and develop new ones."

550-bed Scheme Planned for Rockingham Street

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An application has been submitted to Sheffield Council to build a 550-bed student accommodation scheme on a vacant site in Rockingham Street.

The development would consist of three linked blocks, with a mix of cluster bedrooms, studios and one bed apartments.

The student complex would fill a gap in Rockingham Street in an area that has become dominated by student housing. However, the proposed development has raised some concerns. In particular the University of Sheffield is worried that the commercial units planned for the ground floor would not be suitable, due to their close proximity to university department buildings.

The Watkins Jones Group shifted its focus on university accommodation in 1999, and since then has built flats to accommodate more than 35,000 students across the country.

The company already manages 41 student properties, including a number in Sheffield, such as the Cornerhouse complex in Edward Street and Sharman Court in Broad Lane. An additional student accommodation development of 139 studios is also due to open on Suffolk Street next year.

According to Watkins Jones, the firm works closely with councils and universities to "ensure high-quality, appropriately designed schemes that enhance local amenity."

Developers are increasingly looking to add more to the city than student housing, a trend that is highlighted by a 784-bed scheme planned near Ecclesall Road. Along with student accommodation, developers will create a new pedestrian walkway linking Napier Street to Summerfield Street along the banks of the Porter Brook.

Council officers welcomed the plan suggesting it will improve pedestrian permeability along the strategic green network.

Unite’s £70m Liverpool Scheme Approved

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Unite has been given the go-ahead to build a 1,085-bed student accommodation scheme in the centre of Liverpool.

The £70 million project brings the total development pipeline to be delivered within the next three years to over 5,000 beds.

The new scheme is to be built alongside Unite's existing Grand Central student village, which is reportedly 99% let for the 2016-17 academic year.

Unite is planning to open three new sites close to Liverpool's Lime Street station in time for the 2019-20 academic year.

The latest development has been designed by KKA Architecture and consists of a mix of 8,11 and 15 storey blocks.

Managing director of Property for Unite Students, Richard Simpson, said: "We are delighted to have secured planning consent for this site in Liverpool, which is one of the UK's most popular university cities, with a growing student population and where we have significant experience having operated for over 15 years.

"This development will help to meet the strong demand for student accommodation and provide a safe and secure home for students. We will continue to progress our secured pipeline which remains focused on regional locations with strong student markets."

Scotland Commits to No Fees in 2017/18

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Scotland's Education Secretary John Swinney has told the SNP conference that students from EU countries starting courses in 2017-18 will not pay fees.

Students had been seeking reassurances after the UK voted to leave the EU due to the possible impact it might have on tuition fees.

Mr Swinney announced the funding guarantee during his keynote address to the Glasgow conference, he is also urging the UK government to guarantee students right to stay here during their studies and work in the country once they complete their course.

The MSP said: "We have already confirmed tuition fee funding to support EU students studying here, or preparing to start this year. Now we will extend that guarantee to those starting next year in 2017-18. And unlike labour and the Tories, that's tuition-free education we are guaranteeing - not the massive fees they impose on students wherever they come from."

Education was a key component in Mr Swinney's speech, who's goal is to close the attainment gap for their poorest pupils.

He added, saying: "And our ambition is equally straightforward, we will make significant progress in closing the gap within the next parliament and substantially eliminate it within a decade. It may be a simple objective. It may be a straightforward aim. But it will not be easy. We do not underestimate the scale of our ambition."

Plans Submitted for 600-bed Lancaster Scheme

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A significant student development in Lancaster would be completed within two years, if plans are given the go-ahead.

Global real estate firm Hines has applied to build a 600-bed student village split across eight new buildings up to eleven storeys high.

Situated on wasteland between Bulk Road and Caton Road it's hoped the scheme would act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area.

Included within the plans is a study library, gym, cinema and roof level lounge.

Alex Knapp, Hines managing director, said: "We expect to start construction work in the summer of 2017, and complete by September 2019, in time for the start of the academic year.

"We think the scheme will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area where there are a number of vacant properties, while the presence of an anticipated 600 students will also add vibrancy to the area while increasing trade for local businesses."

Mr Knapp continued, suggesting that Lancaster is very appealing in terms of a location for investment and that it has a vibrant student population. Moreover, there is a growing trend for students to prefer living in city centre locations such as that proposed, rather than in peripheral locations, even if they are closer to the university.

The company has only recently entered the student housing market and is looking for prime development sites in strategic locations across the UK.