The North Wales-based developer is “considering its options” after the city council turned down its plans for a 425-home student accommodation scheme in Fallowfield known as Oakley Gardens.
“Naturally we are disappointed with the decision to refuse our planning application,” said Iain Smith, planning director at Watkin Jones Group.
“The regeneration of the site for the delivery of student accommodation, including the retention and enhancement of Oakley Villa, would provide an alternative to homes of multiple occupancy within Fallowfield.”
Last year, Manchester City Council said it wanted to entice students out of HMOs in areas like Fallowfield and into purpose-built student flats in the city centre in order to recoup £17m in council tax revenue.
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.
In handing down its decision on Watkin Jones’ Oakley Villa proposal, Manchester City Council gave the following reasons for refusal:
- The proposed development would introduce up to 425 students into an area already experiencing high levels of student accommodation and occupation. It is considered that this provision would give rise to unacceptable impacts
- The proposal would not give rise to a positive regeneration impact or address the requirement for housing in the area
- The applicant has not demonstrated a formal agreement is in place with a university, or another provider of higher education.
Watkin Jones maintains that its proposals, designed by Tim Groom Architects, were supported by the University of Manchester.
“We believe that the scheme accords with the council’s student accommodation strategy given the site’s location on a key arterial route close to the city’s universities and will now look at the committee’s reasons for refusal and consider our options for the future,” Smith added.
Despite disappointment in Manchester, Watkin Jones’ pipeline is strong.
A market update posted on the London Stock Exchange states that the company’s pipeline comprises 3,870 build-to-rent apartments and 6,750 student beds and is valued at £1.7bn.
In Birmingham, Watkin Jones was recently granted planning consent for 551 apartments, while in Swansea and Bath plans for more than 700 student beds have been approved.
The developer is also awaiting approval for almost 1,500 student beds across three developments in Nottingham and London.
In June, Watkin Jones sold 159 affordable homes in Crewe to housing association Plus Dane in a £22.8m deal. An additional 245 homes on the site are available for open market sale.
A further 23 units in Llay, North Wales, were sold to Adra for £3.5m. The remaining 51 homes at the site are available for open market sale.