UniCity Pulls Out of Belfast Student Development

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Plans to build one of Belfast's largest student accommodation developments has been put on hold after the site was put up for sale.

Developer UniCiti had planned to build an 11-storey student accommodation scheme with 354 bedrooms. Originally the developers had lined up Collegiate AC to manage the accommodation once operational.

Situated on Little Patrick Street, the vacant land is now being marketed and sold off as a "student development opportunity".

The plans were given the green light by Belfast City Council last year, but now the land has gone on the market with commercial property firm Savills.

According to promotional material "the property is perfectly positioned for student accommodation, approximately 200m from the new Ulster University campus and 350m from the Central Library".

Around 4,000 student bed spaces have already been approved in Belfast, with many of those located in and around the York Street area, close to the new Ulster University campus.

UniCity had argued, even if all managed beds were approved and built it would account for less than 25% of all available student beds, which is a lower proportion than many other cities.

However, others have suggested there isn't the demand for thousands of student beds, which have already been granted planning permission.

In particular, Dairmid Laird of lettings agents Laird believes students will continue to favour cheaper, privately-owned housing over purpose-built student accommodation.


Keele University Wins Approval for Its Student Housing Transformation

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Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough council have unanimously approved plans by UPP and Keele University to build £160m worth of new student accommodation.

The scheme will transform student housing on the Keele University campus, providing around 1,300 students with accommodation by increasing available student bed spaces to 4,300 over the next five years.

The University wishes to expand from 10,000 to 13,000 students by 2020 and the construction of 2,300 high-quality affordable rooms will help the university meet this ambition.

Work is due to start later this year and will be undertaken in a number of phases. The scheme will see new build projects at the Lindsay, Horwood and Barnes halls on the university's main campus.

This latest partnership will boost UPP's portfolio to around 36,000 rooms through long-term partnerships with 16 leading universities across the UK. Once the deal goes through, UPP will have invested around £2bn in universities across the UK since 1998.

Planning consultants, Indigo Planning, said of the application: "Following a comprehensive and successful public consultation, this scheme is considered a welcome addition to the university by staff, students and local residents alike and will be a real asset to the University's vision for the future.

"It is a stand-out scheme, the comprehensive accommodation enhancement and expansion programme will further improve Keele's world-class campus, alongside its current exemplar teaching facilities."


Nottingham Trent Proposes Office Space for Former Indian Restaurant

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Nottingham Trent University have submitted plans to build a 16,300 sq ft office building on the site of a former Indian restaurant on Goldsmith Street.

If approved, the offices would be able to accommodation 200 people on the site of the demolished former Posh Spice building at 23 Goldsmith Street, located next to Rescue Rooms and Stealth.

Nottingham Trent University says it wants to build the office space to "further cement the university's profile in the area."

Commenting on the application, director of estates and resources for Nottingham Trent University, Ged O'Donoghue, said: "Nottingham Trent University is keen to regenerate the site and we have submitted planning permission for the construction of a new building. We are in the process of drawing up detailed proposals for its future use, which could include office and teaching space."

Architects CPMG have been designated as designing the development and suggested take up for office space had been constrained due to the lack of quality A grade office space. This has resulted in a requirement of 250,000 sq ft.

They also said: "If there is to be continued growth within these sectors and other office based industries it is essential that there is a continued investment into grade A office space. Under investment in this area could lead to Nottingham losing its position as a regional centre for business and being unable to compete with other Core Cities such as Bristol, Leeds and Manchester."


Keele University Seeks an Additional 1,400 Student Beds

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Keele University is looking to make a significant investment into student housing as part of a major transformation project.

Plans have been submitted to increase the amount of on campus student accommodation in Keele to just over 4,330 from the current 2,886.

The proposals call for the demolition of several of the university's current student halls including Lindsay, Horwood and Barnes. In its place, new student accommodation will be joined by three social hubs as well as a new music and teaching facility, medical facility and facilities for Keele Postgraduate Association.

In partnership with UPP Projects Ltd, Keele University is seeking planning permission to demolish 366 student bed-spaces at Barnes Hall and the erection of seven new halls of residence, consisting of cluster flats and townhouse blocks, which will provide 617 new student beds.

At Horwood Hall the plans call for the demolition of 266 student beds and the construction of 13 new halls. This will include the construction of seven cluster flat blocks and six townhouse blocks. In total 915 new student beds will be created.

Finally, at Lindsay Hall, 241 student beds will be demolished, which will be replaced by 10 new halls of residence consisting of seven cluster flat blocks and three townhouse blocks. In total the development will add a further 814 beds.

In addition to the new student housing, the project will seek to remodel some of the retained accommodation.

A planning statement submitted as part of the application, said: "The university's brief is to expand and enhance its residential portfolio.

"The scale of the re-development, covering a considerable proportion of the university's campus, means that it will be a transformational project.

"The overall residential project is an opportunity to increase the amount and improve the quality of the accommodation offer on campus.

"It is also an opportunity to update the existing residential stock, providing a balance of accommodation types."

The university currently has around 10,000 students enrolled, but their 2020 strategy will seek to increase this to 13,000. As a result there is expected to be increasing demand for affordable campus accommodation in Keele.

The £150 million scheme has backing from city planners and is expected to be approved at a meeting this week.


Warwick District Council to Develop Student Housing Strategy

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Warwick district council is to develop a student housing strategy to address issues raised by local residents.

Over the past 15 years the number of students living in Leamington alone has tripled to over 5,000.

Although the council recognises the boost to the local economy students bring, there have been calls for them to be more responsible for the number of complaints regarding anti-social behaviour.

Warwick District Council's executive has now agreed to develop a Student Housing Strategy. The strategy will look at meeting the demand for student housing, as well as offering advice and support to both students and residents.

Commenting on the announcement, councillor Kristie Naimo, said: "I'm pleased to see the council's executive have now agreed to develop a Student Housing Strategy.

"This is something councillors, residents particularly of South Leamington and others have been calling for and we hope that officers will start investigating this as soon as practically possible.

"Having a strategic approach to student housing will benefit all members of our communities - students as well as permanent residents."

Work will be undertaken to develop the strategy, with the aim of bringing the district in line with other areas which have a high student population.

The executive report noted that students have particular requirements, which leads to specific issues for the local community. The report also highlighted the important of promoting harmonious relations between all sections of the community.


Pre-fabricated ZEDpods to Tackle the UK's Housing Shortage

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A new independent company in the UK, named ZEDpods Ltd, is looking to meet the challenge of building affordable homes in cities where land is scarce or expensive.

Consisting of a low-cost, pre-fabricated, energy-efficient micro home, they require no land space as the pods sit on an elevated platform above outdoor car parks.

Subsequently the pods use otherwise unused space and only require air rights to be constructed.

ZEDpods have been funded via the Government's Enterprise Investment Scheme with the objective of manufacturing and erecting them across the country.

It's hoped the pods will offer an affordable starter home for singles or couples and a housing solution for key workers, student accommodation and general needs.

The entry level model cots just £65,000 and the pods can either be installed as singles or doubles and as a community cluster.

According to principal of ZEDfactory, Bill Dunster, there are 1.2 million public parking spaces in the UK, allowing the concept to make a substantial contribution to help solving the UK housing shortage without local authorities having to find land or funding.

It's estimated between one and five percent of existing parking spaces have potential for ZEDpods, creating between 10,000 and 50,000 homes nationally per year.

A fully constructed pod is already located on a car park at the Watford HQ of the Building Research Establishment, providing visitors the opportunity to view the concept for themselves.


Peers Vote to Remove International Students from Migration Targets

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Peers have voted in favour of removing international students out of the UK's net migration targets.

Representing a significant blow to the prime minister, peers backed an amendment from Lord Hannay of Chiswick which sated that students should not be treated for public policy purposes, as a long-term migrant to the UK, for the duration of their studies.

The amendment received strong support and was passed by 313 votes to 219 in the upper chamber on 13 March.

The Prime Minister Theresa May has previously ignored calls from the higher education sector to remove international students from net migration numbers, seemingly in an attempt to meet their pledge of bringing the figures down into the tens of thousands.

The current stance on international students has been blamed for a fall in recruitment from markets such as India, which has seen numbers half since 2010. Meanwhile competing countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, have seen their intake of Indian students explode.

Lord Lucas, a Conservative peer, argued the change is required as the Home Office was in theory the sales desk for international applicants to UK universities. He suggested the website was "antagonistic" and therefore deterred some potential students.

The amendment in its current state says, those who receive an offer to study in the UK shall also not be subject to more restrictive immigration controls than were in force for a person in their position on the day this act was passed. It also says the secretary of state should have a "duty to encourage international students to attend higher education providers".

The amendment will now be considered by MPs, who may choose to either accept or reject it. Peers can then try and insist on the changes, recommend alternatives or back down.


Degree Apprenticeships Increase in Popularity

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Degree apprenticeships, consisting of university studies and work, are close to becoming a significant success, according to a new report from Universities UK.

Nearly 5,000 people will begin degree apprenticeships for the 2017-18 academic year, representing an eight-fold increase on when the scheme was launched in 2015.

The report also found the scheme was reaching people who would not otherwise have gone to university.

The degree apprenticeship scheme operates across England and Wales, but is open to applicants from throughout the UK.

The study into the scheme found that at least 60 higher education institutions were looking to introduce degree apprenticeships from September and that by then more than 7,600 people will be enrolled on degree apprenticeship courses.

The report suggested the current growth was driven by the need to meet skills shortages, with chartered management, digital and technology solutions and engineering the top three areas of provision.

However, there is still room for improvement with the report finding that awareness of the scheme among individuals and employers was too low.

Researches have therefore urged government and universities to increase efforts to "publicise and improve understanding of degree apprenticeships and their fundamental role in supporting social mobility and raising productivity."


Sussex and Loughborough Top University Rankings

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The annual QS World University Rankings by Subject has crowned Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with the most top places, but Sussex and Loughborough also achieve top awards.

Among UK universities, Oxford was rated top in the most subjects, while the university of Sussex was ranked as the world's best for development studies and Loughborough was ranked best for sport.

The annual rankings compare institutions across 46 subjects and report on the strength and depth of specialisms, rather than basing comparisons on an overall university ranking.

Harvard topped 15 of these subjects, while fellow US university MIT being awarded the top spot for 12.

In addition to Sussex and Loughborough there were a number of UK universities that claimed first place in their specialist field.

The Royal College of Art was top for art and design and the Institute of Education, which forms part of University College London, was first for education.

The University of Cambridge was the most consistent institution, with more subjects in the top 10 than any other.

In total a quarter of all top 10 rankings are taken by UK universities, with the US and UK having the biggest share of the highest places.

The University of Nottingham also fared well, being named as an elite institution in 37 of the 46 subjects surveyed.

Commenting on the results, Ben Sowter, head of research for the rankings firm, suggested comparisons by subject were becoming more important for students when considering courses and institutions.

He added: "Subject rankings are becoming more and more influential" and the UK does particularly well in these rankings, which drill down to a subject level.


Surrey Students' Union Calls for Housing Intervention

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The University of Surrey Students' Union has called for action to combat what it calls a student housing crisis.

According to student union president, Alex Mackenzie smith, the market system has failed and it's time for intervention, including more regulation.

The students' union has said students are being forced out of Guildford or into working longer hours, in order to pay for rent.

A housing manifesto created by the union said: "The housing market is increasingly occupied with those who are looking for an increasing return on their capital, and squeezing their tenants for everything they can, while doing the absolute minimum to be a legal landlord."

Miss Mackenzie added: "The market system has failed Guildford, and now it is time for intervention to bring fairness back to the system designed to provide the most basic human need. A roof over our head."

The manifesto called for more regulation to help protect students from exploitation, more purpose-built student accommodation, for students to be treated as residents of Guildford and for the introduction of rent controls to ensure prices are kept down.

The union is looking for Surrey residents to sign a petition to increase student loans with a London weighting, as students are being forced to pay rents similar to those in the capital.

The document also referenced the recently launched landlord accreditation scheme, suggesting its purpose was worthy but will fail to work when the market isn't functioning correctly. It suggested below par properties are still able to attract tenants, ensuring poor performing landlords aren't forced to raise their standards, leading to the exploitation of students.

Councillor Paul Spooner welcomed the manifesto but suggested a shortage of housing locally and regionally for all residents presented many challenges.