In his London Plan, published last week, Mayor Sadiq Khan laid out a comprehensive plan to address the growing demand for affordable student accommodation in the capital.
The plan recognises that “London’s higher education institutions make a significant contribution to
its economy and labour market”. It also identifies how a lack of new student accommodation may negatively affect them.
Addressing issues of affordability, at least 35% of any future Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) is required to remain ‘affordable’. According to the Mayor’s Academic Forum, which is composed of representatives from the boroughs, universities, property developers and students, affordable student accommodation for the year 2017/2018 amounts to £160 per week or less.
This will be assessed on a yearly basis through the Mayor’s Annual Monitoring Report.
Under the plan 3,500 student rooms will be built annually and the mayor calls for these to be built in well connected areas in terms of walking, cycling and public transport.
Student accommodation developments will be used as part of regeneration schemes but there is an emphasis that on a local level, they contribute to a ‘mixed and inclusive neighbourhood’.
To ensure any new PBSA development remains relevant to students and is supporting London’s universities, it must either be operated directly by a university or the development must provide housing for students at one or more specified universities.
Jack Kershaw, UCL Halls Accommodation Representative told LS:
“The 35% provision of affordable housing for PBSA just isn’t good enough. It is unclear if Sadiq Khan really has the power to even enact these proposals. The Labour Party and Khan need to be fully supporting renters’ unions and the fight against the privatisation of student housing.”
The London Plan is the strategic plan for the city, setting out an economic, environmental, transport and social framework for development. The plan for student housing is part of a wider focus on the issues of housing in the capital.
Consultation on the London Plan is open until 2nd March 2018.