Manchester eyes increase in student beds provision
The city council wants to recoup up to £17m in council tax revenue by expanding the city’s offer of purpose-built student accommodation and attract students out of private rented sector housing.
Students are exempt from paying council tax, meaning that the council is losing out on contributions as a result of students choosing to live in private rented accommodation instead of purpose built student housing, or PBSA.
The provision of additional PBSA in the city centre could “support the freeing up of mainstream housing currently occupied by students”, Manchester City Council said in a report to its executive committee ahead of a meeting this week.
The council said that the relative lack of student accommodation compared to the city’s student numbers means “the mainstream lettings market is the most likely destination [for students]”.
There are around 90,000 students across Greater Manchester’s five universities but only 24,000 PBSA student beds available in the city centre, according to figures from the 2018/19 academic year.
Between 2010 and 2019, 1,800 PBSA units were built in the city centre out of a total of 6,440 homes.
The overall quality of Manchester’s PBSA stock is poor compared to other cities and, “in order for Manchester to remain competitive as a world class education hub, the current level of poor-quality accommodation needs to be addressed”, the council’s report said.
PBSA schemes currently in the pipeline in the city centre include Downing’s 800-bed development at River Street and Unite’s 600-bed tower on New Wakefield Street.
The council also recognises that existing PBSA in suburban locations may no longer meet the requirements of students in terms of location and facilities.
As a result, the council aims to increase the amount of PBSA, particularly around the Oxford Road Corridor, supporting the council’s wider regeneration objectives.
In June, developer IQ Student Accommodation laid out a plan to overhaul its Manchester estate that included redeveloping out-of-town sites into affordable housing.
The council aims to provide a better and more diverse pipeline of PBSA in line with students’ needs, the report said.
The changes to the city’s approach to the development of student accommodation form part of the city council’s consultation on its Local Plan.
- Hear more at the Education Property Update event on 22 October