Image: Flickr/ Elliott Brown

University towns ‘saturated’ with purpose-built student accommodation

University towns are reaching their capacity for purpose-built student accommodation. However, demand for such housing may fall due to demographic and international visa changes.

The last two years saw record-high investments put into purpose-built student accommodation, according to the Financial Times.

The consultancy EY said that approximately 9 university towns have reached or are nearing “saturation point”. These towns include Coventry, Durham, Liverpool and Leicester.

However, EY released a study warning that proposed restrictions on student visa numbers, and new rules for EU students, will lower the demand for student accommodation.

Last year, plans to construct two new student housing blocks in South Leamington Spa were revealed. The first, on Althorpe Street, will accommodate about 187 students and the second, on Wise Street, will provide 198 rooms.

After the plan to build “Grand Union Students” on Althorpe Street was revealed in January, SoLAR (South Leamington Area Residents) submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which revealed that the number of Warwick students living in Leamington has tripled in 15 years, rising from 1,600 to 5,200. ( There are 6,200 spaces for students on Warwick’s Campus.

Concern have already been raised in response to the latest student housing proposal to be built by Robothams Architects, according to the Leamington Observer.

It stated that despite the economic boost such accommodation has on the local area, the rising student population has also created several issues such as “rowdy behaviour and end of term rubbish.”

A spokesperson for Robothams Architects quoted in the Leamington Observer: “We appreciate the reservations that local residents have towards student developments, however the irregular shape of the site combined with the electric substation location limits the potential for alternative uses.”

Robert Nash, Leamington Spa’s Town Clerk, explained that Warwick District Council’s Community Safety Partnership and the University of Warwick have started several initiatives to reduce the negative impact of rising student population.

These include the street marshals initiative and the Council’s Steering Group, which will give students the opportunity to address local issues.

The Leamington Town Council is also working on a Neighbourhood Plan which allows local people to have a say in the future of developments in Leamington. In this case, it will examine the balance between affordable housing for purchase or rent by local people, and accommodating the growing student population.

Mr Nash highlighted that students benefit the town by volunteering in the community. He stated: “As a father of a student and a recent postgraduate [from Warwick], I know that students are not necessarily the cause of all the problems associated with an expanding student population.”

In response to how Warwick can tackle the rising student population in Leamington, Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy, explained that the University has committed £90m towards building campus accommodation over the next 4 years. 267 new rooms will be available next year.

Regarding whether the demand for student housing in Leamington will weaken in response to proposed visa changes, Tom Frew, the University’s Senior Press and Media Relations Manager, stated: “We expect no impact as a result of visa changes, with our understanding that the proposed changes will only affect institutions below university level.”

Related Posts

Comments (2)

  • This may be of interest to readers – similar city with similar issues which on the whole PBSA are not solving. We cannot resolve housing crisis whilst maintaining thriving universities ( which bring in vast revenue) and maintain green belt policy as we know it. Green belt policy is widely supported by home owners but never by the homeless! The driver for building PBSA is not to house students but to park investment , therefore if price parity with HMO were to be achieved the incentive for investment would not be there, however in many cities the calculations are not making sense and in cities like York and Durham we have enough Studio Flats to house 10% of the university population whilst only 4% can afford them and even fewer which to live on their own. The easiest way of checking occupancy levels is to do a FOI request on properties within the postcode that pay council tax(these developments tend to have unique postcodes) As the properties are exclusively student the payment of council tax indicates an empty unit. Void levels are considerably higher than the promoters of these schemes would have you believe. I would say however that there are some very good and sensibly priced schemes that are doing very well in terms of occupancy but not all. https://

  • Mr Nash obviously does not live within South Leamington as over the Christmas period, the area was like a rubbish strewn ghost town. This is indication that the majority of the houses are HMOs. First time buyers have less options available to them as more affordable homes are being changed in some cases to house eight students. Living in this area for a while I would have to say honestly, the anti social behaviour and term time rubbish strewn streets are down to students on the whole. Alas the planning department seems to ignore policies where a ten percent rule regarding HMOs is in place. Also our disgraceful councillors with a few exceptions seem keen to put through these HMOs at the expense of the local community. I guess these councillors live removed from areas suffering from studentification. But the real baddies are these portfolio Landlords who are exploiting local communities and destroying their quality of life all for greed. This has distorted the housing market within Leamington Spa. Streets within South Leamington look run down because of these HMOs. Many Landlords do not maintain their properties or gardens. In fact, according to an academic study by a leading housing expert, some Landlords do this deliberately so that people move and they can snap up these homes.

    Despite Warwick being a highly regarded university its lack of insight and disregard for local people as well as Warwick DC, have contributed to the decline of quality of life. Both these bodies have a duty of care and have failed to protect those most affected. The arrogance and lack of understanding especially shown by Warwick DC is quite staggering on the real impact to people’s lives. Yes students need places to live and study in a stimulating environment. I was fortunate to live and study in a beautiful historic town. But the student housing balance within South Leamington is totally out of kilter. But I guess we do not want to upset all the Tory voters in other areas and not forgetting Landlords. Too many vested interests blinding common sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *