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Councillors Urged to Review Student Policy in Edinburgh

Posted by Richard Ward in

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Planning chiefs in Edinburgh are being urged to review controls on student housing after it was revealed that an effort to balance new developments with residential accommodation has failed to result in new homes being built.

Rules were introduced more than two years ago that require sites of more than 0.25 hectares where student accommodation has been proposed that it must include at least 50% general housing.

However, ten out of 11 student developments granted planning permission since the rules came into effect have been smaller than 0.25 hectares, whilst one scheme wasn't required to build mainstream homes as it was seen as impractical.

The policy has therefore resulted in no new homes being built and has raised concerns that developers may be targeting smaller sites to dodge the rules.

Green housing spokesperson Councillor Susan Rae said: "Edinburgh is a city with four universities. Students need to have somewhere to live and there is a good argument for well-managed, suitably-located and affordable student housing as opposed to being scattered across tenements with badly-managed, poor quality private lets."

"However, the sheer scale of growth in student housing, at almost 10,000 bed spaces in less than a decade, is staggering. And people are understandably worried that it is crowding out other vital needs like affordable permanent housing."

Planning convener Councillor Neil Gardiner argued the policy had been successful in dispersing the student population across the city, ensuring there isn't an over concentration in individual communities.