Policy H/SA: Student accommodation

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will guide set out how and when proposals for new student accommodation for higher education institutions would be supported.

Proposed policy direction

We propose to support the identified growth for student accommodation over the next ten years for students attending full-time courses of one academic year or more.

New purpose-built student accommodation that reduces demand for private accommodation occupied by full-time students will be supported where consistent with other policies and suitable in location, type, layout, affordability and linked to at least one existing educational establishment within Greater Cambridge providing full-time courses of one academic year or more. Proposals will not be supported where they involve the loss of existing and planned residential accommodation. Existing student accommodation will continue to be protected to avoid increasing demand for housing in the private rental market.

Any student accommodation provided either as self-contained units or bedspaces will contribute towards delivering the overall housing requirement for Greater Cambridge.

Why is this policy needed?

Students make up a significant proportion of the population of Cambridge and if adequate provision is not made for their needs in suitable locations this would lead to significant pressures on the local housing market. New purpose-built Student Accommodation will help meet the identified growth needs of an existing educational institution. This provision will in turn reduce demand for private accommodation occupied by full-time students. However, it needs to be in the right place, where impacts can be addressed, and not have an adverse impact on the delivery of other forms of housing. The Cambridge Local Plan includes a criteria-based policy setting out policy requirements, it is proposed to use this policy to guide the development of the new policy for the Greater Cambridge Local Plan.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses to the First Conversation included the support for making provision for the expected growth in student numbers and need for accommodation.

Stakeholder engagement has been undertaken with Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Cambridge, to better understand their future growth ambitions including the impact of COVID-19. This highlighted the following issues:

Anglia Ruskin University:

  • Anglia Ruskin’s residential strategy will be refreshed in 2022 and the University will review its strategy and investigate matters such as ownership, nomination agreements, maintenance and the need for buildings.

The University of Cambridge:

  • The University and colleges are discussing the future size and shape of the student population and will be preparing a 10-year plan.
  • Eddington - At present, 2,000 student rooms are permitted under the outline consent. 325 student bedrooms have already been completed. Further development of new student units depends on the growth in student numbers in any individual college, and the financing of future development. It is expected that planning applications for all of the 2,000 student units will be submitted by 2033.

What alternatives did we consider?

1. No policy – Not considered a reasonable alternative as the Councils consider this policy is needed as the considerations for student accommodation is different to other types of development. It is essential new development proposals are linked to existing higher education institutions and existing student accommodation is protected. This approach will avoid increasing demand for housing in the private rental market.

2. To include a policy with a presumption against further student accommodation - Not considered a reasonable alternative as it would not allow sufficient flexibility in the housing market to deliver the housing needed for different groups, including students.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 7: Homes
  • Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study (2021)
  • Housing Needs of Specific Groups Study – Addendum for Greater Cambridge (2021)

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 - None

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 46: Development of student housing

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