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Students in the City
West Yorkshire Accreditation The Network Autumn 2005

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a student housing market is a problem in want of a solution. Nationally, at least, this truth is acknowledged by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Dept for Education, the Local Government Association and Universities UK, who have together commissioned research into the problems and their solution (shortly to be published). Locally, this truth is acknowledged by the stakeholders represented in the Student Housing Project Group (shortly to reconvene after a half-year hiatus), whose remit is to seek solutions to the problem in Leeds. The problem of course is concentration. Concentrations of student housing, for instance in & around Headingley, are disadvantageous to students, to the private rented sector, to the city – and not least, to the residents in the areas of concentration.

If the problem is concentration, then the solution of course is dispersal. One hurdle to this solution (by no means the only one) is ignorance. Neither side of the student housing market, students or landlords, is necessarily aware of how to take advantage of the city of Leeds as a whole. A solution to this particular hurdle has emerged from dialogue between residents and landlords.

A local letting agent remarked that, while students and landlords might know of other parts of Leeds, they didn’t readily know how to get there. Accordingly, Leeds HMO Lobby (representing local community groups in & around Headingley) a couple of years ago proposed the Campus by Bus project – which would be a targeted bus map, showing specific services which connected the campuses with other communities in Leeds. But the limitations of this project soon became apparent. As a local landlord pointed out, neither he nor his potential tenants knew the relative advantages (or not) of these other communities.

So Leeds HMO Lobby took the project a step further, and proposed Students in the City – which would be a map of the communities of Leeds, showing both how to access these areas, and also charting their advantages and disadvantages. The first stage of realising the project was to gather all the relevant data. By good fortune, a student in the School of Geography at Leeds University volunteered to undertake the research as part of her course work. She has spent the last academic year doing so, and we now have an excellent set of spreadsheets. There are about fifty Community Areas within the Ring Road (these have been defined by Leeds City Council, and revised by Leeds University). On the spreadsheets, all of these are assessed in terms of four criteria – their accessibility, their affordability, their amenity and their safety. Each is given a star rating, from five stars for excellent, to one star for poor.

The next stage is to make this information available. At this point, Leeds HMO Lobby has begun to work with Unipol and the City & Regional Office of Leeds University. The project is still being developed, but the plans include outline information in Unipol’s Housing Guidance literature, a free-standing leaflet with summary information which can be widely distributed, and finally a website with full information (and links to the information sources). The plan is to have the project up and running in time for the house-hunting season in the new year.

By way of a preview, Headingley and Hyde Park both of course score highly in terms of accessibility and amenity. But both have poor scores for affordability and safety. On the other hand, while Beeston & Beeston Hill and Cross Gates, for instance, are less accessible (though more accessible than you might think), there are distinct compensations. Both are much safer and much more affordable, and both have good or excellent amenities.

The lesson really is ‘swings-and-roundabouts’ – every community has its assets and its liabilities. It’s our hope that the Students in the City project will enable all concerned to make informed choices about living in Leeds.

Richard Tyler, Leeds HMO Lobby

The Network, Winter 2006
The article in the last issue of the Newsletter reported on plans for a website which will give information on the communities of Leeds, showing both how to access these areas, and also charting their advantages and disadvantages for tenants. The website is still under construction. But in the meantime, Unipol is publishing a tabloid, Housing 2006, with two pages of information on 'Where to live', with notes on amenities, costs and travel to some twenty accessible communities.
Richard Tyler

The website was launched by Unipol on 1 April 2006.


Leeds HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk/leeds