Sheppard Robson: Student housing market remains strong

 Rupert GoddardRupert Goddard, associate partner at Sheppard Robson architects in Manchester, assesses the health of the student accommodation market ahead of Place's dedicated event in March.

Uncertainty as to where funding for student accommodation will come from in the future makes it difficult to predict demand going forward. With universities no longer being funded centrally, income will need to be generated from fees. Because of this, universities aren't sure how many students they will get once changes to funding and fee increases have been confirmed.

However, on the flip side to this, the challenging economy may encourage students to study where the cost of living is lower. This could have a positive effect on universities in the North West and indeed the wider North.

International students still pose an opportunity for developers for several reasons. First of all, they tend to stay in halls all year for their entire period of study, while UK students usually remain in halls for their first year before moving into shared housing. Additionally, international students also tend to want a certain style and specification of accommodation which is superior to the basic rooms usually occupied by UK students.

There are opportunities for developers to build student accommodation to a specific niche, which may not be as significantly affected by funding cuts and fee increases. For example, a student accommodation development on Manchester's Oxford Road has recently gone in for planning, which is specifically targeted towards post-graduate students, providing a particular level of specification. Manchester City Council is currently compiling strict criteria for student accommodation in the city, with a specific number of residential developments permitted to be built within a given time frame.

The way student accommodation is built also poses a challenge in terms of retrofitting due to the fact that rooms are designed to a specific size that would make a retrofit or refurbishment difficult.

Student AccomodationPlace Student Accommodation Forum sponsored by CB Richard Ellis, Rider Levett Bucknall, Hill Dickinson and Sheppard Robson takes place on Thursday 17 March at the Friends Meeting House on Mount Street in Manchester and begins with registration at 1:30pm for the first speaker at 2pm and is scheduled to finish by 5:00pm.

Please contact Dunstan Carter at Place North West to register your attendance at this free event: or 0161 834 9487

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