OPINION: Don’t knock Sheffield's student accommodation
If there’s one line I’ve heard multiple times in the last few years it’s ‘oh no, not more student accommodation!’, writes Delia Harmston, studio director at HLM in Sheffield.
Student accommodation has been the fastest-growing development sector in Sheffield for some time.
A couple of decades ago Sheffield’s students would live in ‘halls’ for their first year and then, typically, move to a shared terrace in neighbourhoods like Broomhill or Hunter’s Bar.
Then, when the government introduced student fees, needs and expectations changed, almost overnight.
Students now expect modern living accommodation with ensuite bathrooms and communal facilities located close to their universities and thriving social districts.
Sheffield now has more than 50,000 students and many of them are now choosing to live in and around the city centre.
Many people are missing the impact and opportunities that great new student accommodation can bring in regenerating our inner city.
Sheffield’s students embrace all that is special about our city - independent shops, interesting cafes, pubs and music venues, as well as access to great countryside.
Sheffield regularly features in surveys as one of the best places to study in the UK.
The challenge, as I see it, is for the city to keep itself competitive in the student market, remaining attractive to them while making the most of the urban regeneration opportunities that emerge.
New student accommodation can offer opportunities for regeneration of both the urban fabric of our city and help to improve the life and vibrancy of our communities.
And there is another benefit to these student developments that you may not have considered.
In the past decade the number of people looking to buy or rent a home in Sheffield has almost overtaken the stock of affordable housing.
By building new accommodation for Sheffield’s students, we can help to release some of our city’s terraced accommodation, meaning that communities can be more mixed - contributing to vibrancy and economic development.
So don’t dismiss student housing – it’s vital to the vibrancy of our city, keeps our universities competitive, and enables a wider urban regeneration of our neighbourhoods that we can all benefit from.