Nottingham Council Reject Development Plans

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Plans to build a student accommodation development on the Former Red Cross building site on Gregory Street, Lenton have been refused by councillors.

Nottingham City Council refused planning permission on the grounds that it would "unbalance the community".

The proposal called for the development of the site into a student scheme consisting of 43 one-bedroom student studio apartments. According to the design and access statement submitted as part of the application by Rayner Davies architects, the existing setting does not provide a welcoming or attractive environment.

However, the architects said: "There is the potential to greatly improve the visual amenity of the area with a well-designed new build project."

Nottingham City Council did not agree and turned down the proposal put forward by Sajaid Mahmood.

In regards to their decision the Planning Committee said: "The proposed development would exacerbate the existing high concentration of students within this area and further contribute to an unbalance community and associated enmity issues such as noise and disturbance and those associated with a demographic imbalance and a high level of residential turnover."

The developers now have six months to appeal the decision.

Student Accommodation No Longer Viable for Shrewsbury Prison

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Developers behind the recently refused application to transform Shrewsbury's prison into student accommodation are to consider their next move once the council responds to questions over what the building could be used for.

Plans to create student accommodation, a walled garden, flats and a gym on the site of the former jail were refused by the authority's central planning committee just before Christmas.

Despite the rejection, the owners of Dana Prison are confident the site can be redeveloped.

Trever Osborne, one of the joint owners said: "We would win on appeal because of the trumped up reasons for refusal. They had nothing to do with planning.

"The reason for refusal is there is no council policy to deal with street parking. It is a matter for the council to deal with. If you just read the reasons for refusal they are barely credible."

However, Mr Osborne's plans to turn the site into student accommodation look to have been dropped. The part owner of the site said: "It would spoil the setting of the building and is a wrong solution. The idea that we might demolish further good buildings to accommodate a car is not something we are considering."

Mr Osborne has asked the council to confirm what the site can be used for without requiring planning permission. Under its existing planning consent alternative uses include a detention centre or short term holding centre for immigrants, migrants or refugees.

The developers are yet to receive confirmation about the potential uses for the site, which has been operated as a tourist attraction for over a year.

Empiric Adds Another York Asset to Its Portfolio

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Empiric Student Property has purchased the land and entered into a forward-funded development agreement for a 106-bed student accommodation scheme in York.

The Percy's Lane development will cost a total of £9.2 million and will involve the demolition of existing buildings on the site and the construction of a new premium purpose-built student accommodation block.

The scheme will consist of a mix of studios and one, three and five bedroom apartments, as well as six bedroom townhouses and communal facilities.

Construction is expected to begin in May, with completion of the site scheduled in time for the 2018/19 academic year.

The property is situated close to Empiric's Lawrence Road development and the recently purchased Foss Studios.

Foss Studios was bought by Empiric earlier in the week for £23.3 million and consists of 220 studio rooms split across three buildings. The development is currently managed by Fresh Student Living but will be integrated onto the Group's Hello Student operating platform at the end of March 2017.

Empiric Chief Executive Paul Hadaway said of the latest scheme: "As a result of these transactions, the group will own a total of 441 beds in York, some 2% of the local full-time student population. The design of the self-contained apartments is in line with our "townhouse" concept, providing students with a group living environment with all the benefits of purpose-built student accommodation."

Crosslane Submits 583-bed Plans for Coventry

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Plans have been submitted to Coventry City Council to develop a 19-storey student accommodation block close to the city centre.

Situated on Friar's Road, the scheme has been put forward by Manchester-based Crosslane Student Developments.

The proposed scheme consists of 583-beds and sits on Friar's Road at the junction with St Patrick's Road, within the ring road on the south side of Coventry city centre. The substantial student housing development would comprise of 140 studios and 443 en-suite cluster flats with communal areas and will also come equipped with a common room, study room, gym, cinema and kitchen-dining entertaining room.

Crosslane Group said it had chosen the particular site because of its close proximity to the Coventry University Campus, as well as the city centre and train station. The company added that its interest in the city was primarily due to Coventry University being the fastest growing university in the UK by student enrolment.

With the university announcing major investment in its facilities over the next five years, Crosslane expects applications at the university to further increase.

Mike Moran, development manager for Crosslane Student Developments, said: "Crosslane is delighted to have submitted its first planning application for a student accommodation development in Coventry.

"The proposed scheme is right in the heart of the city centre and a short walk to Coventry University. At 583 beds, the scheme would be a significant contribution to easing the supply-demand fundamentals, which persist for purpose-built student accommodation in the city."

If the proposals go ahead, upon completion the new block will be managed by Prime Student Living, which already manages student accommodation across the country.

Substantial Student Development Planned for Exeter

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Plans have been submitted to develop a significant student accommodation block in Exeter.

Located just off the bus station site redevelopment on the corner of Cheek Street and Bampfylde Street, the development calls for the construction of a seven storey block able to accommodate 150 bedrooms.

The proposal is the latest student housing development planned for the area with plans going through for a 588-bed student scheme on the current Stagecoach Bus Depot site.

On the other side of the bus station an additional student accommodation scheme has been approved on the site of Honiton Inn.

The latest plans have led to concerns for Richard Branston, city councillor for Newtown. He said of the proposals: "This will make the area very student heavy as we already have the Printworks and the Kingfisher House development is also under way now. I have concerns about another significant student development in an area which is already over-developed with students."

Submitted to the council this week, the application if approved, would lead to the demolition of the charity shop and car park behind it.

As part of the application Exeter city Council have asked developers to include a waiting area for those using coaches from the new station on the site opposite, with a variety of options being explored.

If the application is approved, it's anticipated that construction work will begin by mid-late 2017.

Cambridge Council Undertakes Extensive Student Housing Study

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A comprehensive study commissioned by Cambridge City Council has shed light on student accommodation in the city.

The study will be used by the council and its partners to guide future student accommodation developments.

The report shows that in 2015-16, there were an estimated 46,132 students in Cambridge with a need for some form of student housing.

It also found that the University of Cambridge accommodated a high proportion of its students in university owned accommodation, while Anglia Ruskin University and other institutions had very little directly-owned accommodation. As a result, students at these institutions were more likely to stay in privately owned halls, shared housing or the parental home.

The assessment found the current strategy for student accommodation, which is laid out in the emerging Local Plan, is largely appropriate, but could be tweaked to strengthen the commitment to addressing the need for market and social housing, as well as student accommodation.

As a result of the study, the council is looking to make some changes to the Local Plan, to ensure that all student accommodation developments are directly linked to a particular educational institution, which has specific student housing needs.

The report also suggested the formation of a working group, consisting of council officers and representatives of higher education institutions, in order to effectively monitor student accommodation.

Councillor Kevin Blencowe, said of the report: "We recognise that there has been an increasing number of planning applications for student accommodation in Cambridge in recent years. The aim of this study was to provide us with greater understanding of student accommodation supply and demand in the city.

"This study means we have a clearer picture of student accommodation needs both now and in the future, which will help us plan how best to accommodate our student population, who are an important part of life in the city."

Mr Blencowe is to recommend the proposed modifications to the emerging Local Plan are considered by the Development Plan Scrutiny Sub Committee on 25 January.

SNP Encourage Feedback on Number of Glasgow Developments

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The public is being asked to comment on the amount of student housing being built in Glasgow.

SNP MSP Sandra White is to hold a public meeting to gather feedback and opinion on the growing number of student developments in the city centre and the West End.

According to Ms White, the city is being swamped with student accommodation. However, Glasgow City Council say students form 13% of the city's population, making a great contribution to the city's economy and that the rising number of developments reflect their growing numbers.

Among the developments planned is a 100-bed scheme on the site of a former playground at Kelvinhaugh Primary in Gilbert Street. A proposed scheme in the Trongate area has also been submitted and calls for the construction of 586 student rooms, representing one of the city's largest housing developments ever.

Commenting on the applications Sandra White said: "Every single piece of spare land in the West End and the city centre is being taken up by student accommodation.
What do we want Glasgow to turn into? Do we want Glasgow to end up like St Andrews, which is like a ghost town at the end of semesters?

"These are profiting businesses. They don't pay community tax or council tax. It's about time we actually looked closely at Glasgow City Council plans."

The MSP suggested instead that the city should be trying to bring families into the city centre, creating more social housing. Ms White hopes to finalise plans to hold a public meeting in the next few days.

Belfast Student Accommodation Approved

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A major student accommodation development in Belfast was given the go ahead this week.

The 307-bed development on York Street, adjacent to the new Ulster University campus, was approved by Belfast City Council on Tuesday.

The 11-storey block brings the total number of student beds approved by the Council since it took over planning powers in April 2015 to around 5,500.

Under the plans the vacant building on the site will be demolished to make way for the new student housing. Designed by architects Robinson McIlwaine, the proposals also encompass three retail outlets and a gym.

The plans had originally been for a 14-storey development, but were subsequently reduced in scale.

Developers suggested the project represents a "stylish landmark" and it could be worth around £30m. They also expect to create around 250 construction jobs during the two-year build period.

Planners said of the scheme: "Having regard to the policy context and other material considerations above, the proposal is considered acceptable and planning permission should be approved, as the building reflects the scale and size of other surrounding structures."

Many of the student developments already given the green light are located in and around the York Street area, close to the new Ulster University Campus.

Glasgow's Oldest Pub to Make Way for Student Housing

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Glasgow's oldest pub is under threat of demolition after an application was submitted for new student accommodation in the city centre.

The plans call for the construction of a 12-storey block to be located on the junction of High Street, Duke Street and George Street, with a total of 326 cluster flats and 100 self-contained studios. Because of the development, the Old College bar situated at 219 High Street would be flattened.

The pub is said to have opened in the early 19th century before being granted its licence in 1812, and has remained in place ever since. Despite its history, the Old College Bar remains unlisted, although the planning application submitted in December does note that it is within a conservation area.

Developers Structured House have described the bar and its surrounding buildings as "detrimental to surroundings visually, economically and in urban design terms" suggesting the student development will "enhance the existing character or the conservation area".

The application will now go before Glasgow City Council with a decision expected by mid-February.

At the same time The Press Bar on Albion Street also faces demolition. The bar was once the favoured establishment for the city's journalists, including those from the Daily Express, the Herald and Evening times, which were previously situated in neighbouring properties.

Record Number of Top Honours Awarded

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The latest data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) indicates that the proportion of students leaving university with top honours has risen in the past five years to record highs.

HESA have reported that almost one in four (24%) students who were awarded a degree graduated with a first last year, compared with 17% in 2011-12.

The figures also show a rise in the number of students achieving a 2:1, with 73% of students in 2015-16 achieving an upper second award, compared to 66% five years earlier.

Further analysis shows a drop in the proportion of students awarded lower honours, with 22% of students achieving a 2:2 in 2015-16, and just 5% graduating with a third.

Graduate recruiters suggest there is no way of telling whether individual universities are becoming more generous in their awarding of degrees or whether standards are genuinely rising. There does however appear to be a trend in employers seeking more than a particular degree classification.

Employers have realised if they use a blunt cut-off such as a 2:1 or above they're missing out on some excellent candidates, and therefore degree classification for some recruiters has become less important.

In 2015 the global firm Ernst and Young announced its plans to remove academic and education details, including degree classifications, from its trainee application process and would decide who to interview based on candidates' performance in online tests.