Bath and North East Somerset Council is to consider additional measures to control the growth of student accommodation in Bath, following a meeting earlier this week.
As part of a review being carried out by the Conservative-run authority, the council is to look at what powers are available to limit the number of new student accommodation blocks in areas with high concentrations of student housing.
The issue was debated by councillors at a meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council last Wednesday, 23rd March.
During the debate, a successful amendment was tabled which commits the council to looking at:
- Whether existing controls on the numbers of HMOs in certain parts of the city should be extended more widely;
- What the right limit should be on the proportion of HMOs in any given area;
- Whether it is possible for additional measures to be put in place to limit the number of new student accommodation blocks in areas which already have a high density of student housing.
Conservative Councillor Bob Goodman (Combe Down), who is leading the Council’s review of student accommodation and HMOs in the city, said: “The proliferation of new student accommodation in Bath has become an increasingly important issue for residents of the city, so it’s right that the Council should look at what can be done to better manage the growth and concentration of student accommodation and HMOs in Bath.
“Our universities contribute a huge amount to the city, and it’s important we support them in continuing to be successful.
“However, we must also ensure that we maintain balanced communities, with the right mix of student accommodation, HMOs and family homes.
“Not all HMOs are student housing, many are also occupied by graduates and workers, so it’s important we take this into account.
“The review we are undertaking will therefore look at how to ensure a high standard of accommodation for those who live in HMOs, as well the best way to manage the growth in HMO numbers and student accommodation more generally.”
Councillor Cherry Beath (Combe Down, Lib Dem) commented: “At its heart this issue is about balancing the availability of housing for the different groups of people who want to live in Bath and North East Somerset.
“On the one hand we recognise that Bath’s Universities make an enormous contribution to our economy, employment and culture and it’s wonderful that so many students want to come to study in Bath.
“It’s also important to remember that HMOs are an important source of affordable housing for many people who are not students.”
“However, on the other hand, we have to face up to rising concerns about whether our communities can accommodate growth in student numbers and consider whether we should do more to control the density of HMOs, the sites which can be developed for purpose-built blocks and the quality of accommodation available.”
“I welcome the administration’s willingness to investigate this issue thoroughly and I call on them to do so in a transparent way, involving the community, Universities, and all interested parties.”
Councillor Will Sandry (Oldfield, Lib Dem), who seconded the motion to Council, added: “Higher education is our biggest local industry, so of course we want the Universities and the College to succeed.
“However we have to be aware of the competing demands of growing student numbers and other young people who need housing.
“Purpose built student accommodation is a useful option for many students, but I feel it should not be placed in areas with an already high concentration of HMOs, as this will add even more pressure on residential amenity and services.”