Student accommodation developers asked to pay for affordable housing

Developers urged to help meet demand for student accommodation

A proposal by the City Council of Nottingham seeks to make developers of new student accommodation contribute to the building of more affordable housing.

There is an “unprecedented” number of applications for building student housing, the Council says. Looking at the numbers, there were 49,000 full-time students expected to go to either one of the two universities in the city. And although 1,350 beds will become available this year, the current supply is barely keeping up with demand.

What is more, the Annual Vacancy Survey of PBSA conducted by the council is expected to confirm that vacancy rates remain low in the sector. The council said that there’s a need for more purpose-built student accommodation to meet demand and avoid the shortfalls in beds seen in the past. The more new PBSA schemes appear, the council says, the more this will free traditional shared housing for the tenants that need it the most.

The council’s proposal uses Section 106 to make developers of new student accommodation contribute to the building of more affordable housing. With this act, the council is also trying to balance the housing types on the market.

According to the recently adopted Local Plan, a document referred to by planners when making planning decisions, 10% of all new residential schemes, providing between 10-14 homes, need to be affordable housing. For those developments that offer 15 homes and more the number is 20%. To keep student schemes on track with requirements for general housing, a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is set to be approved to provide a mechanism for securing funding and affordable contributions. If this happens, the SPD will help the planning committee decide when to refuse and grant planning permissions.

Councillor Linda Woodings, said: “Our two universities are vital for the city’s economy in both the investment they bring and the jobs they support and create, as well as helping to teach and train our future doctors, nurses, scientists, and teachers.”

Woodings pointed out at the misconception that there’s too much student accommodation in Nottingham when the reality is that it is just keeping up with demand. In the last few years, vacancy rates have been low and have remained below 2%. This is unlikely to change, Woodings added, as student numbers continue to grow.

The role of the council, the councilor said, is to make sure as new developments continue to increase they also give back to the city and support the building of affordable homes. “Nottingham is in need of affordable housing, and the financial contributions from these schemes can help us build new affordable homes for those who need them,” Woodings said.