Purpose Built Student Accommodation
The report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development) is enclosed.
Manchester has one of the largest student populations in Europe, with over 90,000 students at Greater Manchester’s five universities, and over 380,000 students at the 22 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) within an hour’s drive.
Policy H12 of the city’s Core Strategy was adopted in 2012 and had been developed with the objective of managing the supply of student accommodation in the city. It set out the criteria to be used to guide planning applications for student accommodation and to manage the appropriate delivery of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). The policy had helped ensure that housing had been developed in the city centre, prevented an oversupply of PBSA, and created a dynamic residential market. The Council, working with partners, had used Policy H12 to manage the controlled delivery of a limited but sustainable supply of new PBSA, in response to increasing student demand for accommodation in the city centre. A small amount of PBSA has also been developed in the south of the city, including the University of Manchester’s plans in Fallowfield. Whilst Policy H12 remained relevant, changes in the student accommodation market had created the need to review the interpretation and application of the policy. This primarily related to affordability challenges and the need to locate accommodation close to the higher education institutions.
To that end, in November 2019 the Strategic Director (Growth & Development) had been asked to undertake an appropriate consultation with key stakeholders on this changing context for purpose built student accommodation, and to report back on the outcomes of the consultation (Minute/Exe/19/95).
The report now submitted by the Strategic Director set out the outcome of that consultation. The consultation had been undertaken in two phases: phase 1 up to March 2020 had been with developers, students and higher education establishments; phase 2 up to May 2020 with residents and business as part of the local plan review. There had then been the opportunity for further consideration and discussions with local ward councillors within the Council (Minute Exe/20/107).
For phase 1 there were 85 respondents: six from property developers; three from higher education establishments; and 76 from students, including representation from the Manchester Metropolitan University Student Union. The report described in detail the range of issues that these consultees had raised in their responses.
For phase 2 there were 561 respondents overall to the Local Plan consultation, although not all had commented on the purpose built student accommodation statement. Most of those responses were from residents. For the residents who responded on the question of purpose built student accommodation there was significant opposition to the conversion of existing family homes into shared living arrangements for students, and support for a range of good quality, affordable accommodation.
The report then set out a detailed responses to the matters that had been raised by the respondents. It also considered the implication of the COVID-19 pandemic on future provision and development of such accommodation. Any new schemes that were considered under the approach being recommended in the report would not be ready for occupation until 2023 at the earliest, and by then it was anticipated that the city would have recovered from the pandemic with a sense of normality returned. So it was felt that demand for student accommodation would not be affected by the pandemic in the longer term.
1. To note the outcome of the consultation exercise with key stakeholders on purpose built student accommodation.
2. To endorse the approach set out in the report to help guide the decision making process in advance of the review of the Local Plan and request the Planning and Highways Committee take this approach into material consideration until the Local Plan has been reviewed.