Student Accommodation Planned for Liverpool's Ropewalks

Posted by Richard Ward in

Student accommodation could be built on a vacant site in the centre of Liverpool's Ropewalks district if recently submitted plans are approved.

The Slater Street plot was previously home to a four-storey building, which was demolished way back in the 1980s. Now plans submitted to the council have earmarked the site for student accommodation.

The application submitted to Liverpool City Council said Seel Street Properties Ltd aspires to create good quality student accommodation located in the city centre.

Under the proposed plans, the developers are looking to create a four-storey building, consisting of two five-bedroom cluster flats and three studio rooms. Along with the student accommodation there will also be space for an office.

Smith Young Architecture has been working on the plans and documents provided to the council said of the scheme: "The new building has been designed to respect and reflect the character of the individuality of the existing focal buildings, and following the tradition of these early/late Victorian buildings in their innovative use of traditional materials, but in a more modern contemporary manner."

Academics Accuse Government of Reneging on Its Promise to Fund Student Nurse Placements

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Universities have sent a warning to government over its decision to renege on plans to provide 10,000 new nursing degree places, which they argue is short-sighted and risks leaving the profession without a reliable recruitment plan.

As part of their degree, student nurses must spend at least 50% of their time working under supervision, usually in hospital. However, academics have reported that not a single extra nursing training place has been funded or allocated for the future.

Figures provided by the Council of Deans of Health, the body that represents university faculties of nursing, indicate it would cost around £15 million over five years to fund the training placements of 10,000 new nurses.

The government said last year it would free up £800 million and pay for the additional training placements by scrapping bursaries in favour of the standard £9,000 a year tuition fee. However, academics now say this was an empty promise.

They've warned government they must train more nurses, with applications for courses starting in 2017 falling 23% year-on-year. Worryingly, the number of EU nurses registering to practice in the UK has declined by a massive 96% over the course of twelve months. Those coming from the EU to work in the UK during April was just 46, compared to 1,304 last July.

Commenting on the lack of funding, professor Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, said: "At the moment it is not clear how the 10,000 new places for nurses could happen."

He added, universities were already struggling to protect hospital placements for existing students and with no money for training they'll be unable to take people on.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the planned changes would create up to 10,000 more training places for nurses and allied health professionals by the end of this parliament. They also said that even with the double-digit decline in applications, the NHS would still be able to fill the required 20,000 student nursing places this year.

Substantial Student Accommodation Scheme Proposed for Coventry

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Plans have been put forward to develop a large-scale student accommodation scheme on the site of a former garage near the centre of Coventry.

Able to accommodate 301 students, the scheme calls for the development of the former T Joyce & Sons Garage to the east of Paradise Street. The student housing will be split across blocks ranging between three and 14 storeys and will come equipped with communal facilities, cycle parking, a landscaped courtyard and pedestrian access.

The application has been submitted by London Gateway Ltd with the buildings being designed by London-based architects Fraser Brown McKenna.

If given the go-ahead, the accommodation would be managed and operated by AXO Student Living, who already run student accommodation across Coventry.

The design and access statement, submitted as part of the application, said: "The application site is located on the south-eastern edge of the city centre and is within very close proximity to Coventry University's facilities.

"Thus, it is considered that the site is ideally located in sustainability terms to meet the identified need for further student accommodation.

"The adjacent student scheme at 15-23 Paradise Street and the recently granted student scheme abutting the site to the north demonstrates that the principle for student accommodation is supported in the area and that the use successfully exists in this location."

The document also went on to suggest the scheme would enhance the previously run-down site and help regenerate the area, whilst also freeing up traditional housing in the city.

Historic Dundee Mill Could Be Replaced by Student Accommodation

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A historic jute mill in Dundee, thought to be one of the world's oldest, could be demolished to make way for student accommodation.

Queen Victoria Works, built in 1828, has been derelict since it was shut down in the 1980s.

Plans have now been put forward to develop the site into student housing for up to 250 students.

The application is to be put up for public consultation with an open exhibition planned for July.

Situated in Brook Street, the mill is Category B-listed by Historic Scotland but could be demolished if plans are approved by the council.

Designs have been put forward by architects, James Paul Associates on behalf of Scot Properties Ltd.

Commenting on the application, Angus Paul from James Paul Associates said: "At this stage we're still putting together the final plans so it's still early days. Our proposal is to demolish some if not all of the buildings at the site.

"We're still at pre-planning stage but we envisage up to 250 rooms being created for students in a three-storey building."

Under the plans the student rooms will consist of self-contained studios, equipped with a small kitchen, shower and bedroom area.

Concerns had been raised over the safety of the site, due to the mill's current state of repair, which will likely mean it cannot be preserved.

Ahead of the formal application being submitted, the developers have asked for the public to give their views on the plans, which will take place at the proposed consultation next month.

New Coventry Development Receives Mixed Feedback from Residents

Posted by Richard Ward

Plans to build more student accommodation in Coventry city centre have been met with criticism from local residents.

The latest development calls for the construction of an 80-bedroom hotel, 100 apartments, and a 385-bed student accommodation block. The student housing scheme marks the next phase of the huge Belgrade Plaza development, situated next to the Belgrade Theatre.

Residents took to social media to vent their frustration after the plans to build a 200-bedroom hotel on the site were scaled back in favour of more student accommodation.

Residents argued the city is losing its identity due to the influx of student flats, although some were in favour of the development due to its ability to free up the city's housing stock.

The plans were also criticised for placing apartments, a hotel and student accommodation side by side, with those against the scheme suggesting people wouldn't want to live next door to student digs.

Despite the negative reaction from some locals, others were in favour due to the perceived economic benefit that students can bring to the area.

Other large university cities such as Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham were cited as having booming economies due partly to students, with more money being spent in the town centre leading to a better city overall.

Cambridge Completes Phase One of Its £350 Million Eddington Project

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The first phase of Cambridge's brand-new building at Eddington has been completed.

Swiles Court is equipped with 325 en-suite rooms and is designed specifically for graduate students. The £26 million development is part of a wider £350 million project, and comes equipped with a 24-hour porters' lodge reception, study area, laundry facilities and shared kitchen.

Students living in the residence will also have access to three landscaped gardens, which have been designed using inspiration from traditional courts in Cambridge colleges.

Swiles Court marks the first phase of the North-West Cambridge development. In addition to student housing, phase one includes 700 'affordable' homes for University staff and 450 homes available to buy on the open market.

The development, located in the triangle between Madingley Road, Huntingdon Road and the M11, is the University's largest single-location investment ever. Work started on the site in 2013, and the University is expected to invest a total of £1 billion upon completion of the entire project.

One of the main goals of the development is to encourage researchers to choose Cambridge over other competing universities, especially those in the United States.

An acute problem facing recruitment of researchers is the lack of affordable housing, with Cambridge reportedly experiencing an increase in house prices of 86% since the financial crises.

It's hoped the new development will go some way in addressing this issue whilst securing the long-term success of the university.

Developers Look to Shipping Containers to Provide Student Housing

Posted by Richard Ward

Developers in Penryn are looking to create hundreds of student beds using shipping containers.

The scheme has been earmarked for the former Home Shed Site on Kernick Road and if given approval will result in 264 rooms being built along with a swimming pool and gym.

Included in the designs is also space for a health centre, business unit and innovation hubs.

The latest plans follow proposals submitted last year by Expedite Project Services on behalf of the owners of Home Shed to build more than 400 student flats in shipping containers, up to six storeys tall.

However, Home Shed subsequently fell into administration, resulting in Irregular Cornwall stepping in to deliver the scheme. The South West-based company has drawn up a master plan for the site, which they hope will address concerns regarding the increased demand for student housing in Falmouth and Penryn.

The first phase includes the construction of 264 student beds which will be built by transforming shipping containers into accommodation.

Project manager Andy Cook from irregular Cornwall is confident the proposed development would provide a suitable alternative to student housing in Falmouth, whilst also creating additional jobs.

He added: "We're excited to be creating a local solution to the pressures of student accommodation. The number of students is going to rise - the cap has already been raised by Cornwall Council - so there needs to be a fast and practical solution that deals with local people's objections to in town development and which protects the beautiful greenfield surroundings.

"We want to move quickly to stem the loss of houses that could be used for local families as well as re-vitalising redundant brownfield land."

If approved quickly it's hoped work on the site can begin this September, with students able to move in in time for the 2018 academic year.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Results Revealed

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The results of the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) have been published, with more than 230 universities and higher education institutions in the UK being awarded one of three available medals.

The newly released TEF rankings are a government-backed assessment of undergraduate teaching quality, which aims to provide a guide to prospective students when choosing where to study.

The TEF is a voluntary framework, with participating institutions receiving a Gold, Silver or Bronze award, which reflect their quality of teaching, learning environment and student outcomes such as employability.

Those being awarded a TEF ranking will be able to increase their tuition fees in line with inflation, although the Department for Education is yet to confirm what the 2018-19 fees cap will be.

Some notable institutions that received the lowest award include the London School of Economics, The University of Southampton, and the University of Liverpool, all of which are Russell Group members.

In total, more than half of Russell Group institutions, usually described as being the best in the country, did not score a Gold rating.

Understandably some of those, including the University of Southampton, are less than pleased with the award they've been given.

Commenting on the results, Sir Christopher Snowden, said: "I know I am not alone in having deep concerns about its subjective assessment, its lack of transparency, and with different benchmarks for each institution removing any sense of equity and equality of assessment.

"Our own student satisfaction metrics, including satisfaction with teaching, are better than some of those universities who have been awarded silver and gold today."

Similarly, the University of Liverpool said it was disappointed with its Bronze award. Other league tables consistently place the institution within the top 200 universities globally, but the university said it was committed to improving against the measures used in the TEF.

Defending the results, the Higher Education Policy Institute argued that TEF would have failed if it had simply replicated existing hierarchies. However, they suggested prospective students should use the rankings with caution, as they are not reflective of individual courses but of a university as a whole.

A full table of results can be found via the Higher Education Funding Council for England's website.

GSA Expands into Spanish Student Accommodation

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Global Student Accommodation (GSA) has announced its expansion into Spain after having acquired a Spanish student accommodation portfolio.

The portfolio consists of 914 beds across three properties, plus a further 1,320 beds currently in development, which were acquired from funds run by Oaktree Capital Management.

Commenting on the deal, Nicholas Porter, founder and chairman of GSA, said: "We continue to deliver on our rapid European expansion plans, targeting higher education markets where there is a substantial supply-demand imbalance.

"Our brands are carefully targeted towards students, capturing the demand for good quality purpose-built student accommodation combined with excellent customer services."

All of the operational beds are located in central Madrid. The portfolio consists of Galdos, with 370 beds in the centre of the city's main university campus, El Faro with 358 beds in a newly developed building, and Claraval, a prime city centre location comprising of 186 beds.

A further building will be added to the Madrid portfolio when the Lope de Vega University Residence is opened in September, which will be able to accommodation 468 domestic and international students.

Alongside the operational residences, the deal also includes two further development schemes in Barcelona. The two sites are expected to be operational by 2019 and will bring the total number of beds under management in Spain to 2,234.

The expansion into the Spanish market will see GSA also take on the Nexo Residencias brand, making it the third in Europe for GSA, alongside The Student Housing Company and Uninest Student Residences.

Lettings Fees to be Banned

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Legislation banning landlords and agents from charging letting fees looks likely to come into force after it was announced within the Queen's Speech today.

The Queen's Speech this morning outlined a Draft Tenants' Fees Bill will be bought forward, which plans to ban letting fees being charged to tenants as a condition of their tenancy.

The legislation appears to go further than the initial consultation by indicating there will be measures to enforce the ban with provision for tenants to be able to recover unlawfully charged fees. However, at this stage it's unclear whether this will be applied retrospectively.

A survey by Citizens Advice, which formed part of the initial consultation, found nearly two-thirds (64%) of tenants had problems paying letting agents' fees, while 42% had to borrow money to do so. Meanwhile, the 2014-15 English Housing Survey found that the mean average fee paid by a household in 2014-15 was £223, although this varied significantly between location and agent.

The aim of the new bill is to improve transparency in the market while making the private rented sector fairer and more affordable.

An eight-week consultation on banning letting fees closed in April and responses will be used to inform the draft bill.