Part of a 330-bed Bath student development could become an “aparthotel” until October 2021 as Covid-19’s impact on universities takes hold.
The owners of Twerton Mill, iQ, say it is currently significantly underutilised but the temporary use – which would entail apartment-style living arrangements while using a hotel-style booking system – could help to boost the city’s economy when travel restrictions are relaxed.
The 80 aparthotel beds would run side by side with the student accommodation and allow stays of as little as one night.
The Lower Bristol Road development, approved in 2015, only has five car parking spaces and there is no proposal to provide any more.
This is the first scheme to reconsider its roles during the pandemic but there are thousands of other student beds across the city.
The plans from iQ say: “It is not uncommon for PBSA schemes to provide an aparthotel style offer during summer months as a means by which to maximise use of available bed spaces and support the local economy by providing a choice of visitor accommodation.
“However, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided an immediate opportunity, as well as an economic need, to extend the period over which such flexibility is provided.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on student numbers during the 2020/21 academic year. Therefore, bed spaces at Twerton Mill are significantly underutilised, and permission is sought through the enclosed application to temporarily make some of these beds available to non-student residents.
“The proposals will benefit existing residents by increasing the prospect of having ‘neighbours’ and reducing the mental health implications of isolation; taking advantage of an available resource of high quality sustainably located accommodation; and, encourage economic recovery in Bath by supporting the visitor experience as restrictions on movement are slowly eased.”
Under the proposals, the flexible use would apply until October 2021, when the buildings would revert to use by students only.
A spokesman for iQ said: “Every summer, rooms at some of our sites are open to non-students and groups for short term stays to make good use of the accommodation. At a handful of sites, including Twerton Mill, we are looking to extend this programme.”
The application will be considered by Bath and North East Somerset Council.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter