New measures are set to be introduced to influence the quality and location of purpose-built student accommodation in Liverpool.
An independent review commissioned by Mayor Joe Anderson, which will be considered by the council’s Cabinet, has looked at the demand, supply and impact of student accommodation due to a growth in applications.
It follows an increasing trend of some students shunning traditional shared houses and flats in residential areas in favour of living in purpose-built, good quality accommodation close to the city centre.
The review has concluded that there is no need for a moratorium on new schemes because the growth is part of the natural development cycle and will eventually diminish. In addition, student numbers are likely to remain stable and some older accommodation is coming to the end of its life and will provide opportunities for redevelopment in terms of housing or commercial space.
However, the report does make a series of recommendations to give the council a framework to influence future developments. They include:
• Introducing ‘zones of opportunity’ in the city centre to direct where future developments are located and discourage them in less appropriate areas
• Using planning powers to make sure proposals for student accommodation have viable alternative uses in the event that demand falls
• Setting up a range of measures to encourage good quality management of student accommodation, such as requiring a management plan with standards for refuse/waste and behaviour with any planning application, and encouraging a positive relationship between students and their local communities
The report also recommends that the council has a clear strategy to manage the impact of the changing HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation) market, for example in areas where fewer students now choose to live. This could include using planning powers to exercise greater control over the location and intensification of HMOs and using Landlord Licensing regulations to make sure they are good quality.
Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet Member for Housing, who chaired the review, said: “Students make a £1 billion contribution to the city’s economy and in many cases they go on to make Liverpool their permanent home and bring up their families here. This is about balancing their needs with other members of the community.
“Although there has been an increase in applications for purpose built accommodation, all of the evidence we have is that there is still sufficient demand.
“What we are proposing is a series of practical and sensible recommendations that future proof student developments and ensure areas do not become too saturated with a type of accommodation that could become unsustainable and destabilise an entire community.
“I would like to thank all of the people who contributed to this report and helped influence it.”
The review group was made up of councillors and independent experts with experience and knowledge of the student, university and developer communities.