Manchester outlines 12,500-bed PBSA pipeline
Despite a clear shortage of student accommodation in the city centre and several recent refusals, the city council claims there is “no need to depart” from its current approach, pointing to a large potential pipeline of bedspaces.
In recent years, the delivery of purpose-built student accommodation in Manchester has slowed. Deloitte’s 2022 Crane Survey noted there were no new starts on site for PBSA schemes last year.
As a result, some students failed to find accommodation in the city last year and were forced to look further afield.
Manchester City Council now estimates that around 750 new bedspaces are required every year up to 2030 to cater for growing numbers of students, according to a report to the council’s economy and regeneration committee.
In recent times, the city council has refused three student developments that it claimed were contrary to Policy H12 – the policy that sets out how and where PBSA should come forward in the city.
These included Fusion’s 534-home project at Deansgate South, which was approved at appeal.
Manchester City Council’s existing PBSA policy sets out that development should be located close to universities and around the Oxford Road Corridor. This was one of the reasons behind the authority’s refusal of the Fusion scheme.
However, at appeal, the inspector found that the pipeline of PBSA in Manchester was not sufficient to cater for future need and subsequently overturned the city council’s decision.
Another student project that met with refusal recently was Watkin Jones’s 425 scheme in Fallowfield – Manchester City Council said the introduction of 425 students in the “area would give rise to unacceptable impacts”.
The developer appealed the decision but was unsuccessful.
Curlew’s 197-bedroom PBSA project in Hulme was also refused by the city council despite the area being identified as suitable for student development in the city council’s Policy H12.
In a bid to demonstrate its pipeline and create a more robust position against future appeals, the city council commissioned Deloitte to identify sites capable of being redeveloped into PBSA.
In total, 20 sites have been identified. These include the previously-refused Fusion and Curlew schemes, as well as several other large developments that benefit from planning consent or are earmarked for PBSA in a strategic regeneration framework.
Two at First Street make the list – Dominvs Group and Whitbread’s 1,000-student tower and Vita Group’s 600-bed House of Social.
Around a quarter of the total pipeline can be found close to the University of Manchester, where IQ is planning to deliver 3,000 units by redeveloping its existing holdings.
At Upper Brook Street, Property Alliance Group and McLaren are developing plans to deliver around 1,800 student bedspaces as part of a major life sciences campus.
While the site of the rejected Watkin Jones scheme does not appear on the list, another nearby site does.
The Owen Park campus, located a short walk from Watkin Jones’ site, has capacity for 350 student beds, according to Deloitte’s findings. The site has extant planning consent for almost 900 beds.
Manchester City Council accepts there is “a clear need” for more PBSA in Manchester, not least to free up traditional housing stock for non-students, which could claw back around £18m of council tax exemptions.
The authority says the new evidence base will demonstrate there are “more than sufficient sites within the PBSA pipeline to cover identified levels of demand”.
As a result, there is “no need to depart from Policy H12”, according to the city council.
To learn more about Manchester’s PBSA market, book on to Place North West’s Education Property and PBSA conference taking place tomorrow, 25 May.