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