Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When will the student flats bubble burst?

This is the Manchester, a Leicester pub that has been closed for a couple of years now. It is just down the road from the Wheatsheaf Works - the vast former Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) boot and shoe factory in Knighton Fields Road East. The Manchester is pretty big itself for a suburban pub, which leads me to think it may have been built as a meeting hall for the CWS.

The other day the Leicester Mercury had the inevitable story saying that the Manchester is to be converted into flats. But what struck me was the sentence: "The company also wants to build a four-storey block of 47 student flats in the grounds of the pub."

Every time a site becomes available in Leicester we are told that it is going to become student accommodation. This cannot go on for ever, even in a city with two thriving universities like Leicester. The bubble must burst soon.

Leicester and Market Harborough are full of "buy to let" flats built just before that bubble burst. (The vestigial balconies are a giveaway.) How long will it be before student accommodation goes the same way?


Anonymous said...

More to the point, what (or who) will happen to these flats if the bubble bursts?

Niles said...

From a Nottingham perspective, and not taking into this year's intake, which may be lower, or at least not growing as fast in years previously, the Council has been desperately encouraging the build of new, purpose built student accommodation, in the hope of luring students out of the family homes they tend to occupy, with the consequence that families hopefully will move back into the homes.

Nottingham has seen thousands of new student beds being provided. But for all that work, the number of new student beds each year for the last decade or so has still been fewer than the growth in the numbers of students each year. The university sector has been growing by thousands, and finding accommodation for all of these new students has not been easy.

dreamingspire said...

By contrast, living in a city with two universities, I and my neighbours find ourselves with three nearby planning consents for a total of near 1,000 student bedrooms in flats, but none of the projects moves forward - so we have something of a planning blight.

Anonymous said...

Higher education is now a con trick played on the young by the dopey liberal (small L) middle-classes. Bright poor students pay for thick middle-class ones through the fees that the expansion of access ("Uni is a rite of passage") necessitated. Though graduates have doubled in number, 'graduate-level jobs' have not. The (dopey liberal) 'right to work longer' bed-blocks jobs further. Result: indebted, resentful students flipping burgers and a shortage of skilled tradesmen met by Central Europeans who also find themselves resented

Anonymous said...

See also this speculation that increased tuition fees will lead more students to live at home and study locally - affecting the economies and housing markets of those cities with inflated numbers of students. Whither these flats then?

(Will also be a big wake-up for those "students" who see their three years at Uni as three years off to 'party'. Will parents tolerate this?)


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