The explosion of student housing in Sheffield is concerning councillors who fear it is dominating the city centre.
The council’s planning board approved a new development in the St George’s Quarter where Bailey Street Garage will be demolished to make way for up to 220 students.
But councillors have asked planning officers for more figures on the number of student units. The council is due to publish its Local Plan and early indications are it will need to provide 43,000 new homes for everyone across the city.
Coun Peter Price said: “There is a threat to the Green Belt when we build more and more student flats in the city centre and I want to make sure these student flats are counted towards the total number of new homes we need to build in Sheffield.”
These worries were echoed by Coun Jack Clarkson. “We are being asked to approve student accomodation but do we know what the numbers are? There are swathes of empty properties when students have gone home and we have to be careful because we need some of these places for affordable homes for young people. Student properties are becoming big business in Sheffield.”
Coun Tony Damms was more positive. “Every unit of student accomodation prevents a family home from being converted into a house for multiple occupancy. If there are too many student units we can soon find a use for them with single people.”
Planning officer Lucy Bond said she was working with housing officers to review the number of student homes.
“We insist developers show us how they can be converted into one, two and three bedroomed apartments in future, should the student population decline. They used to be built in a pod format and couldn’t be converted but we now have a range of student and private accomodation coming through more frequently.”
The Bailey Street development will be up to nine storeys and will include 73 studio units and 147 bedrooms in 19 bedroom cluster units. There will be communal space on the ground floor including quiet study space, gym and cinema room.