Work Starts on 179-bed Lancaster Scheme

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Construction work has begun on the redevelopment of St Leonard's House, a grade 2 listed building situated in the centre of Lancaster.

Robertson North West are on site to commence the construction of a 179-bed block of student accommodation.

The scheme is due for completion in time for the 2019-20 academic year and will see the former council offices transformed into self-contained studios and en-suite cluster rooms. The accommodation will also come equipped with a communal kitchen area, common room and a gym.

The development was granted planning permission in early 2017 and has been forward funded on the basis of a completion value of £14.3m, representing a net initial yield of 6%.

Commenting on the scheme, Ross McNulty, Development Director at Robertson Property, said: "This project will revitalise this historic building by retaining many of its original features. With a high student population, in Lancaster, this building will provide a high quality of accommodation and improve the city's student accommodation offering."

New Co-operative Model Looks to Cut the Cost of Student Living

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In a model based on those already established in the US and Canada, where hundreds of thousands of students live in co-operatives, students in Nottingham are setting up their own scheme to help provide affordable student accommodation.

A study by the National Union of Students found that 62% of students use loans to help pay rent and only half think their accommodation is good value for money.

This prompted Scott Jennings, a medical student in Nottingham, to set up his own co-operative that will lease homes from a new national body. Student Co-op Homes has been set up with £2.5m of funding from Co-operatives UK, which includes building societies, John Lewis and some farming groups.

The goal is for Student Co-op Homes to have 15,000 beds within five years, which will be leased to student groups and allow them to either handle maintenance themselves or opt into a national scheme.

The co-operative promises that rents will be 10% below the market rate, thereby providing students with more affordable accommodation.

A similar scheme already exists in Edinburgh after a housing association leased some student flats with 106 beds in 2014. The Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative was founded by Mike Shaw, who said the properties are democratically run by its members and are priced 30% cheaper than the city average.

Crosslane Group Given Consent for Cardiff Student Scheme

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Permission has been granted to build a 384-bed student development in Cardiff situated at the northern end of Howard Gardens in the Adamstown area of the city.

The £36 million scheme is being build by Crosslane Student Developments as is expected to be complete in time for the 2020-21 academic year.

The 11-storey development is focused on share cluster flats of between four and eight bedrooms, each sharing a kitchen and living room.

The development will be managed by the specialist arm of Crosslane Property Group, Prime Student Living, who will take on the role of achieving full occupancy prior to practical completion.

Commenting on the scheme, Lisa Timberlake, development manager at Crosslane Student Developments, said: "Crosslane is pleased to have successfully secured resolution to grant planning consent for its new purpose-built student accommodation development at Howard Gardens in Cardiff following extensive engagement with the local planning authority on the design and a public consultation process with local residents."

"At 384 beds, the scheme will be a significant contribution to easing the supply/demand fundamentals which persist for purpose-built student accommodation in the city, helping to free up private housing to rent by families and young professionals."

"The development, located in Adamsdown, is ideally placed for students due to its close proximity to city centre amenities, as well as to a number of key university campus sites, all within walking distance."

Once complete the scheme will have a gross development value of £36m.

Councillors Call Glasgow Student Accommodation Review

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According to Sandra White, Kelvin SNP MSP, student accommodation developments are preventing the construction of social housing in Glasgow.

It was suggested housing associations were being priced out of the development market, with investors taking up plots to build to purpose-built student accommodation for the international student market.

Councillors in Glasgow are now calling for a fresh review into the provision of student housing in the city.

Developments located in the West End and city centre have faced opposition from locals and there are concerns communities are being dominated by large blocks.

Councillors on the neighbourhoods and housing committee said a report prepared by property agents Savills did not provide the information required to inform future decisions.
Ms White indicates that 75% of the blocks were in her constituency, adding: "There are absolutely swamping the area. Housing associations are desperate to build but all the land has been bought up by developers. they are then priced out of the market to be able to build decent social housing for families. This is skewing the whole area."

Although the report by Savills supported the development of PBSA, some see these schemes as being built at the expense of traditional communities. The latest development causing controversy calls for the demolition of the city's oldest pub, The Old College Bar, which could make way for 400 student beds.

Approval Granted for 136-bed Bath Scheme

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Bath councillors have gone against recommendations and approved plans for a 136-bed student development at Bath Cricket Club.

Concerns were raised over potential flooding, the loss of trees and the design of the scheme in the city's 'green heart'.

However, planning committee members voted in favour of Bath Cricket Club's bid to diversify its income stream and to reach the next generation of players.

The club's finance director argued the development would provide a unique opportunity, providing facilities that would benefit all elements of the community.

The site is currently used as a 128-space car park and indoor training facility, which would both be replaced by the new scheme.

The proposed development received backing from the University of Bath, who suggest there wasn't the capacity on campus to meet identified needs. However, officers suggested there wasn't enough evidence to support the need for more student accommodation.

Committee members also said the design fell short of the Georgian architecture that Bath is famous for and urged the architects to deliver something more suitable.

Despite the concerns members voted five to four in favour of approving the application

Major Student Development Proposed for Stoke

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Plans have been put forward that could see up to 800 student beds being built on a key gateway site in Stoke-on-Trent as part of a £500 million masterplan.

However, student accommodation isn't the only option for developers with four options for the redevelopment for Swift House begin drawn up and unveiled to potential investors.

The four options include a 140-bed hotel, 200 apartments, state-of-the-art offices or a student residential complex.

Council chiefs are hoping to attract £500m of private and public-sector investment in the Stoke Station Masterplan, which was launched at Mipim UK last year.

Consultants Faithful and Gould and architects Studio KMA were given the task to come up with options for the redevelopment of Swift House.

The council believe the location of the site near Stoke town centre and Staffordshire University, will make Swift House attractive to investors. While, the Government recently announced that Stoke would be served by at least one high speed train to London every hour.

Commenting on the proposed development, council leader Dave Conway, said: "We are delighted to be launching this key development that has the potential to play a big part in regenerating the Station Gateway to our fantastic city."

"This comes on the back of continued positive news about the local economy and confirmation that Stoke-on-Trent will be a HS2 connected city."

"The Swift House site is a short walk to the train station, Staffordshire University and the Spode creative village, with the city centre little more than a mile away."

The council has been looking to develop the site for the past decade and had been placed on a list of surplus sites earmarked for disposal.

Staff Reject University Pension Deal

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University staff on strike have rejected an agreement reached by union leaders and employers, which would have otherwise ended the dispute over pensions.

University staff rejected the deal, citing it failed to address concerns over threats to their pensions.

The strike is already in its fourth week and has resulted in classes at more than 60 universities being cancelled.

The strikes began over planned changes to pensions, which the University and College union said could result in retired staff being £10,00 per year worse off.

The UCU and Universities UK had reached an agreement but failed to persuade university representatives to take the deal at a meeting on Tuesday.

Sally Hunt, the leader of the University and College Union, said: "The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period."

"We want urgent talks with the universities' representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved."

The deal on the table had proposed temporary pension arrangements, with higher contributions from staff and universities, with talks to be re-opened on how to make the pension sustainable from 2020.

However, the agreement was rejected by the union's representatives, suggesting the deal simply postponed long-term decisions about the pension scheme.

Unite's Discovery Heights Evacuated

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An investigation has been launched to investigate the cause of a fire at a block of student accommodation in Plymouth.

Unite's Discovery Heights was evacuated this week after a fire broke out in the fifth-floor boiler room.

It's believed the fire was a result of an electrical fault, but Unite Students is now carrying out its own full investigation into the cause of the incident.

A statement said: "Earlier today there was a small, localised fire at our Discovery Heights property."

"The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries. The building was evacuated swiftly as a precautionary measure."

"A full investigation into the cause is now underway."

Meanwhile, Dayle, a chief officer for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, said: "It was a fire involving a boiler, so you will understand that a boiler has a number of components to it and part of that is electrics and that appears to be what has caused the fire."

"It's under investigation at the moment but our early indications are that it is an electrical fire."

In response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, fire services have been carrying out regular practise at high-rise buildings in the area to ensure response times are at a minimum.

Individual Degree Subjects to Be Rated

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Degree courses are set to be rated for quality, subject by subject under a scheme ministers say leave universities "no place to hide".

Each subject will be granted gold, silver or bronze by a new tool feeding in official data on teaching quality.

However, students won't be able to use the new rankings until 2020 when the tool is due to go live.

The new rankings are part of the government's plan to get tough on universities as the question of value for money looms over the sector.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, said: "Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes - and which ones are lagging behind."

"In the age of the student, universities will no longer be able to hide if their teaching quality is not up to the world-class standard that we expect."

A total of 50 universities will pilot the scheme, which builds on the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) ranking system for universities overall.

A government consultation on how the new framework will operate is due to be launched and will last 10 weeks.

Commenting on the scheme a spokesman for Universities UK said: "TEF will stand or fall by whether it can provide accurate and meaningful information to inform student choice."

"The assessment of subjects needs to be effective and not overly burdensome."

International Students Rank Newcastle University in the Top 10

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An international student survey has found students attending Newcastle University continue to rate their experience highly.

Conducted by i-graduate, the International Student Barometer Autumn 2017 concluded that 93% of respondents were satisfied with the University overall. The results place Newcastle University 6th in the UK, out of 31 participating universities.

International students were satisfied across a number of categories, including expert lecturers (95%), learning support (94%) and quality lectures (90%).

Newcastle University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Davies, added: "We are a vibrant international community with over 6,000 students from more than 130 countries. The consistently high satisfaction among our international students underlines our key focus on delivering outstanding student experience and excellent environment for our students’ experience, as well as their personal and professional development."

Meanwhile, Newcastle University Students' Union received a 97% satisfaction rate, placing it 6th in the UK.

The International Student Barometer Autumn 2017 compiled results from 92 participating institutions from across the world and since its launch has gather feedback from over 3 million students.