Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Selly Oak residents dismayed by mammoth student halls

Media Release

Local residents in Selly Oak have expressed dismay over proposals for a total of 1700 bedrooms in two new student halls in the centre of Selly Oak. Over 250 local residents have signed a petition against the proposals which would see around 1200 rooms in a series of tower blocks on the iconic Selly Oak Triangle site and a 526 room block on Elliott Rd. These two separate plans have been brought forward by developers Hines, and Watkin Jones respectively.

These proposals for two gated student communities with negligible car parking have been made despite a recent report by Birmingham City Council showing that there is a surplus of student housing in the city when all types of student housing are considered.  While most people agree that students have a net positive impact on the city, there is a need to spread local negative impacts more widely and to provide a mix of accommodation types to increase student choice.

Local residents in Selly Oak feel that their needs are not considered in the planning process. They are excluded from the gated communities which offer no community facilities and block pedestrian routes. Guarantees that students in these developments will not bring cars to the area are largely unenforceable leading to congested local streets. The spreading student culture leaves the area dead during the summer months. Student Accommodation generates very little revenue for the council – There is no requirement for student developments to pay council tax or business rates. Nor do they have to contribute to providing “affordable housing” as other local housing developments do. Yet, these developments generate large demands for waste collection and other services.  In the case of the Hines development on the Selly Oak Triangle massive tower blocks will over-shadow residential housing and a local special school.

Residents are also very apprehensive about the future of local terraced houses which may be left empty if students transfer to purpose built accommodation. Due to unsympathetic conversions, very few of these properties are suitable for family occupation and rents in them are far too high for families. Use as Supported Housing by the Probation Service and those with acute social needs such as substance abuse seems more likely as this type of accommodation attracts high government subsidies. There is a risk that Selly Oak may become the location of choice for councils all over the country struggling to find Supported Housing.  Many councils across the country already send tenants to be housed in Birmingham, a trend that is only expected to increase.

Notes to editors The Community Partnership for Selly Oak is a federation of local residents groups which seeks genuine regeneration for the Selly Oak district.

A report entitled “Student accommodation supply and demand” was accepted by the Birmingham City Council Planning Committee on 21 November 2019. This report states that once students living at home have been accounted for the total demand for student rented accommodation in the city is 36,218 while the estimated number of bedrooms available to rent in all forms of accommodation is 43,281

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Concerned about the growth of student halls in Selly Oak?

Find out how to have your say here

We want to draw your attention to proposals for student halls on the Selly Oak Triangle (1200 rooms) and Elliot Road (600 rooms). We feel that Selly Oak is already over populated with student accommodation. In addition, the sizes of the builds proposed are out of character with existing buildings on the Bristol Road and Harborne lane and Elliot Rd where these residences will be sited.

Plans for Triangle Site will have 1200 bedrooms and is to be 15 floors high at the tallest point. The Elliot Road deveopment will be around 12 storeys tall with 600 rooms. Neither deveopment has any car parking.

Plans for these builds have not yet been approved by the council and there is still time for us as residents to object if we choose to. If you object to the proposals, we suggest that you write to our local MP and Councillors to voice your concerns, and sign our petitions, here:

We provided more information on the proposals at the link above so that you can draw your councillor’s/MP’s attention to the things that will most affect you.

The link also tells you who your local councillor/MP is and gives an address to write to.

Monday, 14 October 2019


The Community Partnership for Selly Oak(CP4SO) and Selly Oak Area Caretaker Society, is working with Accord Housing and Planning for Real to regenerate Selly Oak and develop local family housing.
We aim to create a Selly Oak Community Development Trust organised and run by local people. The Trust will own assets like family housing and other properties and operate them for the benefit of the local area.

Along with this, it will also provide services to employ local people to regenerate and improve the area. The prime aim of the Trust is social benefit not profit - Selly Oak: A better, healthier place for those who live and work there.

We have a proposed site and now we want your ideas on what is the best way to use it.

There are 2 consultation events in Selly Oak:
Wednesday 16th October 12.00 - 3.30pm
Sense Touchbase, 750 Bristol Road B29 6NA

Thursday 17 th October 3.00 – 6.30pm
Encounter Church, Exeter Road B29 6EU 

Come along and share your ideas and vision, then co-operate to build it.

For more details ring: 0121 472 6671

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Proposed Student Housing Policy for Birmingham

CP4SO – Press Release for launch of Proposed Student Housing Policy for Birmingham

Birmingham has the largest population of students outside London, but is the only large university city that has no policy on student housing.

A co-operative of community groups (the Community Partnership for Selly Oak) has drafted a policy for Birmingham City Council to provide a basis for consideration of planning applications for student housing. Applications are often for poor quality conversions to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), are often retrospective where development has gone ahead without permission, or are for large blocks of purpose built student accommodation that is wiping high streets, particularly in Selly Oak.

The main steer of the proposal is:
·         To provide Birmingham City Council with a policy framework as a basis for approval or rejection of planning applications for student housing.
·         To ensure student accommodation is provided close to universities and not scattered on random lots, or focused on one particular district – Selly Oak.
·         To ensure purpose built student accommodation provides the cluster flat style of accommodation that students want.  
·         To avoid problems of affordability and possible future collapse in the market. Current purpose-built accommodation is at the higher end of the price range for accommodation, leading to problems of student affordability – particularly in the case of ‘studio’ flats. If the market collapses Birmingham will be left with large vacant buildings unsuitable for reuse without significant conversion costs. 

The Community Partnership for Selly Oak with local councillors have campaigned for better quality student accommodation and for its wider distribution across the city so as to avoid the blight that Selly Oak is now suffering.

Selly Oak representative Coun Karen McCarthy has spoken of her fears for the area after hearing of new student accommodation plans and considers that the Birmingham suburb faces an “horrific” future as it becomes the location of choice for developers to place accommodation for students from all five Birmingham universities. Karen feels a policy on Student housing would provide much wanted direction for all impacted by student housing, including permanent residents and students suffering from sky-high rents and poor conditions.

MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, Steve McCabe has campaigned at a national level for legislation with a bill - Protection of Family Homes Bill. The Bill called for tougher enforcement action against rogue landlords and developers but ran out of parliamentary time. Commenting on CP4SO’s proposals, Steve McCabe MP said:

“In Selly Oak we have seen a proliferation of purpose built student flats as well as huge numbers of family homes turned into houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) often with unauthorised extensions tacked on to maximise rental profits. We need a sensible student housing policy to tackle these issues and I hope the City Council will work with local residents, CP4SO, myself and local councillors to achieve this.” 


The proposed policy can be downloaded here