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Proposed Changes to Student Housing Policy at Glasgow City Council: What you need to know
“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] Expat.com, August 2019Image credit: Adam Marikar via Unsplash

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SESplan 2 rejected by Scottish Ministers

SESplan 2 rejected by Scottish Ministers

Arabella Stewart-Leslie 16 May 2019
On 16 May 2019 the South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2) was rejected by Scottish Ministers on the basis that strategic transport infrastructure issues were not properly considered. This reflects badly on strategic planning for South East Scotland. The currently approved iteration of SESplan was approved in 2013.  At the time of its examination it attracted significant criticism from Scottish Government Reporters in terms of meeting its housing land supply requirements. However, the plan was not rejected by Ministers on the basis that the issues surrounding housing requirements could be addressed by the preparation and adoption of supplementary guidance and approval was allowed. Today’s Ministers’ decision on SESplan 2 is due to their finding that the plan has not be adequately informed by a full Transport Appraisal addressing strategic transport infrastructure issues, including cross-boundary requirements. This calls into question the plan’s spatial strategy.  The ministers have highlighted that concerns in relation to these matters were repeatedly raised during preparation of SESplan 2 but have not been addressed. Unlike with the previous SESplan, Scottish ministers have determined that the use of supplementary guidance is not a suitable means of addressing the issue. As the spatial strategy should be informed by a full Transport Appraisal, preparation of supplementary guidance on the issue would not allow for amendment of the spatial strategy if required, potentially rendering the strategy undeliverable. Ministers have now requested the Strategic Development Planning Authority think again and prepare a new SESplan 2 properly informed by the required Transport Appraisal. The rejection of the plan at this time will be a hindrance to local authorities in the area who have awaited approval of SESplan 2 before progressing their own Local Development Plans. This will likely result in development plans across the city region becoming out of date.

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