Proposed Changes to Student Housing Policy at Glasgow City Council: What you need to know

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Proposed Changes to Student Housing Policy at Glasgow City Council: What you need to know

Proposed Changes to Student Housing Policy at Glasgow City Council: What you need to know

Arabella Stewart-Leslie 06 Jan 2021
“The potential benefits of purpose built student accommodation must be balanced against any negative impacts arising from significant concentrations that might be harmful to the sustainability of residential communities.” -  SG10: Meeting Housing Needs, Paragraph 2.6
Glasgow is Scotland's largest city and is recognised by students for its vibrant nightlife. The city is home to 5 universities, University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland as well as number colleges. The University of Glasgow is currently rated 11th in the UK[1] and with living costs approximately 35% cheaper than London[2] it’s a highly desirable location.
Glasgow is home to approximately 130,000 students[3], with the 3 major university’s University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University attracting 28,000, 22,000 and 20,000 students respectively each year[4].
In February 2019, the Council consulted with students, student housing providers, universities, elected members and community councils on the City’s student accommodation. They have now drafted a revision to Section 2: Student Accommodation of their Supplementary Guidance 10 document (SG10: Meeting Housing Needs).  Consultation on this revision is running until 22nd January 2021. This is within a backdrop of predictions that Glasgow’s student accommodation will continue to increase.
The new guidance, if approved, could see new developments for student accommodation in parts of the city restricted. Whilst student accommodation is recognised in essence as residential, it is sui generis in planning terms as there are fundamental differences between traditional residential properties and student accommodation. The council is concerned that the over concentration of student accommodation in certain locations could be harmful to existing residents.  
South Partick, Yorkhill and Townhead are all areas of the city in which Glasgow City Council recognise there has been substantial student development and any further development could undermine residential amenity. Therefore, if the policy is approved, further develop in these locations is unlikely to be supported by the council.
The current adopted City Plan does not provide specific policy relating to student housing but it does state that the Council will in general support purpose-built student accommodation which achieves a high standard of amenity and an appropriate range of accommodation, and is adjacent to main campuses or in locations with good public transport and active travel connections. The proposed supplementary guidance provides city-wide criteria that all future developments will be assessed against:
  • Will not undermine character and amenity

  • Will not place unsustainable pressure on local amenities and facilities

  • Access to shops, services, healthcare, leisure and community facilities

  • Ground floor uses which are open to everyone

  • Usable open space and enhanced public realm

  • Design which respects the existing arrangements of properties in the area

  • Flexible floor designs to allow for future adaption
The applicant will also be required to:
  • Prepare a statement of need to ensure proposals do not lead to an oversupply which could lead to under-performing or vacant accommodation,

  • Prepare an analysis of the locality to demonstrate the relationship between the existing place and its capacity for student accommodation, and

  • Adhere to minimum space standards for study bedrooms.
This assessment criteria will most notably change the amount of analysis that will be required by applicants to justify their proposed development.
In addition, there is also a greater push on mixed developments. Applications within the city centre and in Strategic Development Framework Areas will be expected to also provide mainstream housing on sites greater than 0.3 hectares as follows:
Student housing providers with an interest in Glasgow should take note.
Do you have a potential proposal for student housing in South Patrick, Yorkhill and Townhead? If you wish us to make a representation on your behalf to SG10: Meeting Housing Needs or if you are interested in student housing development in Glasgow, or elsewhere in Scotland, please get in touch with Lichfields.

[1] QS World University Rankings 2020

[2] Expatistan, December 2020

[3] Glasgow City Council, SG10: Meeting Housing Needs

[4], August 2019Image credit: Adam Marikar via Unsplash