Downing River Street Tower
Downing is developing 800 student beds on River Street

Manchester eyes increase in student beds provision

Dan Whelan

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 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. 

 

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The same Council that has made it pretty much impossible to obtain a PBSA planning consent for 10 years+ … shameful.

By The Old Faithful

Manchester city centre residential markets relies heavily on students.

By Floyd

MCC doesn’t realise that students don’t want to live in PBSA after the first year because it’s expensive and you’re treated like juvenile prisoners.

By Aaron

Jobs and flats for outsiders

By Anonymous

The council was more or less blaming the return of the students for the increase in Covid outbreaks as if they are not part of the city fabric but on the other hand we want their money? I think these large student blocks could be in jeopardy everywhere with the current outbreaks in them across the country. MCC wanting to crash in on the private sector again.

By Citizens for concern

Students choose not to live in developments with other students after the first year. They want to live in a community with lots of different types of people, like the rest of us.
The Council seem to be harking back to their own days as students (not paying £9k per year plus extortionate rates) and think today’s students want the same. They don’t. This is a really ignorant approach to increasing revenue.

By BTR Manager

Agree with the comments below.
MCC do not understand what students want. After first year of living in Halls/purpose built accommodation the majority of students get together and want a house. There are virtually no 4-7 bed apartments in the city and so they disperse into the surrounding areas such as Rusholme/Fallowfield and the N. side of Withington. They can build as many PBSAs as they want, they cannot force students to live in them.

By Observer

Hopefully releasing appropriate housing in the suburbs back and ready for restoration in to decent family homes, which are far too difficult to find around Manchester!

By KR

Agree with KR. The student population have turned Withington and Fallowfield into middens.

By Elephant

PBSA would be great if it wasn’t so expensive!!! You can rent a nice two bed flat in the centre including all bills for less (per person) than an average priced studio apartment in a PBSA.

There needs to be a move away from studio apartments in PBSA as these seem to be very expensive and also don’t much opportunity for social interaction.

By Anon