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.

Liverpool John Moores Revives Campus Plans

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Liverpool John Moores University has revived plans to redevelop the site of the old Royal mail sorting office into a new campus.

Plans to initially develop the site into a major new £100m-plus campus were put on hold after the estimated cost of the project soared by more than a third, making the project no longer viable. The university was subsequently forced to consider a new design but remained committed to the Copperas Hill site.

The building was demolished last year, paving way for the new £64m building plans on the 3.5-acre site.

If approved, Phase 1 will see the development of two new buildings, a Student Life Building and Sports Building.

The Student Life Building will house student-facing services plus a new space for the students' union.

The new Sports Building will include indoor facilities such as an 8-court sports hall and gym, which will support teaching and research in sports.

Commenting on the development, LJMU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, said: "We have taken time to develop the plans for the regeneration of Copperas Hill and we believe we have now arrived at the right approach."

Professor Weatherill also suggested the new buildings would be connected visually due to their architectural design.

The first phase of the development is due for completion in the summer of 2020.

New Energy Efficiency Legislation Looms Closer

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Regulation, which will help raise the energy efficiency of privates rented homes is nearing closer to the April 1st implementation date.

From April 1st, landlords starting new tenancies will have to ensure the property they are letting meets minimum energy-efficiency standards equal to a band E on energy performance certificates (EPCs). Those properties with an EPC rating of F or G will be in breach of the regulations and liable for penalties of up to £4,000.

The new regulations appear to be good news for tenants, with some estimates suggesting the average energy bills for a G rated property equate to £2,860 a year, compared to just £1,710 for those in band E.

However, there are exemptions, including some listed buildings and those deemed as "too hard to treat". This could include properties were wall insulation is not appropriate for structural reasons.

Landlords able to obtain exemptions, will in most cases, be allowed to defer the improvements for up to five years.

Government has also proposed an amendment to the legislation, capping the amount that must be spend on upgrades at £2,500 to ensure landlords don't incur excessive costs.

Carin Homes Eyes up Dublin's Student Accommodation Market

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Ireland's biggest house builder has been granted approval to build accommodation for nearly 400 students in Dublin city centre.

Cairn Homes has been granted planning permission to redevelop the Donnelly Centre situated just off Cork Street into student accommodation with 399 beds. The development will also include a shop, cafe and study rooms.

The company already owns dozens of development sites with the potential to accommodate nearly 13,000 homes. Cairn hit the headlines last year when it paid more than EUR 100 million to buy part of RTE's Donnybrook headquarters, the highest price paid for a plot of residential land in almost a decade.

The company has now started to move into the student accommodation market and plans to build a total of five developments with 1,700 beds.

Carin Homes isn't the only developer hoping to benefit from student accommodation, with several major student blocks being built near the Donnelly Centre. These include a 380-bed scheme recently opened at Mill Street and another currently under construction on Thomas Street.

Student Flats to Replace Durham Hair Salon

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A former Durham city centre hair salon could be developed into student flats if plans are given the go-ahead.

Q Student has put forward proposals to transform the first and second floor of Saks on the city's Market Place into two 3-bed student apartments.

Documents submitted as part of the application suggest no modifications will be made to the rear or frontage of the building, although non-structural alterations will be required to create the living accommodation.

The proposed development is the latest application for student accommodation situated in the city centre.

Elsewhere, Starstruck Limited was granted approval to turn the former Post Office on Silver Street into 17 student apartments.

The plans were given the green light after planning officials recommended councillors approval the application. It was argued the development would stop the building falling into disrepair.