Student housing problems trigger ‘town v gown’ rowsMake Text Bigger
Residents are failing to take a shine to glass and steel tower blocks to house students in university towns and cities.
‘Town v gown’ upsets are setting neighbours against each other in some communities in angry rows over noise, anti-social behaviour and falling housing standards.
With around 3 million students at the UK’s universities and colleges and only supplying on campus bed spaces for around a quarter of the number, private landlords are left to take up the slack.
The UK’s largest private student landlord, Unite Group, only has a capacity for around 42,000 students, leaving a huge number of students sharing houses in local communities.
Two cities at the vanguard of the debate are Oxford and York.
Oxford City Council is taking on special planning powers to contain the spread of shared student houses in the city and has a policy to restrict universities to let no more than 3,000 students live off-campus before they can expand research facilities.
Executive member for housing Joe McManners said: “It frees up private housing and takes students away from residential streets, something residents wanted.”
While Oxford takes a hands on approach to managing student landlords, York is resisting calls to impose tighter controls.
Latest figures from York City Council reveal the number of student properties in just two neighbourhoods rose from 219 in May 2000 to 733 in May this year.
Other cities are also under pressure to let universities expand but are besieged by complaints from angry residents.
Chester City Council has just rejected a multi-million student development for a four-storey 203-bed block.
Meanwhile, new applications for major student developments costing millions are under consideration in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham.
The government has withdrawn from the debate, leaving councils to make local policies over controlling student housing.
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