Leeds HMO Lobby
What is a HMO?
Studentification in Leeds
Use Classes Order
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
Leeds HMO Lobby
Grand Strategy 2
The provision of student accommodation in Leeds has evolved over
the years, but in the last decade, changes have been especially
1.1 On the one hand, the demand
for accommodation has developed and changed. Throughout most of
the last century, the student population in Leeds was fairly stable.
Student numbers were relatively small, and growth since the 1960s
was steady. Things changed in the last decade of the century. Under
government pressure, higher education expanded rapidly, especially
with the 1999 target of a 50% uptake. In the last ten years (1994-2004)
the number of students in Leeds requiring accommodation rose from
c28,000 to c39,000, an increase of 40%. However, currently (coincidentally
following the appointment of new Vice Chancellors at both universities)
overall intake has levelled off, and so has demand for accommodation,
at nearly 40,000 (Unipol, Owners Briefing, 2005).
1.2 On the other hand, the supply
of student accommodation has also evolved. In their beginnings,
universities themselves provided accommodation for their students
(Devonshire Hall is an early example in Leeds of what might be called
‘cloister’ provision). With expanding numbers, more
students were accommodated in the private sector, at first in lodgings,
later in student houses. In the period of rapid expansion, huge
numbers of owner-occupied houses were converted to HMOs. Currently,
three-quarters of student accommodation in Leeds is provided by
the private rented sector. The latest development is the move into
this market by major commercial companies. Liberty Park (housing
564) opened in 2003 (a new type of purpose-built ‘cloister’).
Unipol estimates that by 2009, such developments will account for
18% of the market.
1.3 The upshot of the combined developments in
supply and demand is a surplus of student accommodation
in Leeds. Demand has stabilised, but the supply is increasing. Currently
(2004-2005) there is a surplus of c2,000 bedspaces. Next year, this
is forecast to increase to c2,500. And in the following year, 2006-2007,
the projected surplus is c4,500, or 17% of the market (Unipol, 2005).
The problems caused by student accommodation in Leeds are many and
various. They follow especially from the conversion phase of provision,
rather than the ‘cloister’ phases. They take a number
2.1 On the one hand, intensive conversion to student
accommodation is undesirable development. First
of all, it is an abuse of the housing stock. When there is a shortage
of housing, especially for first-time buyers, then it is a terrible
waste to convert residences into what are effectively second homes.
And then this conversion replaces a stable population of owners
with a population of inherently transient tenancies.
2.2 On the other hand, private provision of student
accommodation destabilises the housing market.
First of all, the student invasion means high demand, which inflates
property prices. The market becomes over-heated (between 1995 and
2001, house prices in Leeds 6 nearly doubled). But the destabilisation
doesn’t end there. The developing surplus means that there
will be a student exodus from many areas. As demand drops, deflation
may well follow.
2.3 The convergence of these problems means that,
far from regenerating a neighbourhood, the impact of unregulated
student accommodation is degeneration. The first
phase of degeneration arises from the student invasion, and results
The transience of the population not only generates serious social,
economic and environmental problems, but also undermines the very
community which is necessary to tackle those problems. The second
phase of degeneration follows the student exodus. Some of the areas
evacuated may nevertheless remain desirable. But many won’t,
in consequence of studentification, and the danger is that low-demand
problems may arise.
Leeds HMO Lobby’s first Grand
Strategy was adopted in 2002 when the communities in and
around Headingley were experiencing the first phase of the impact
of student accommodation. Now that the second phase is emerging,
the time is opportune for a reappraisal of the Strategy. The overall
aims remain valid: but new objectives are needed. (The implementation
of the Strategy is spelled out in the Lobby’s proposed Student
Housing Action Plan.)
3.1 Resistance: the first aim of the strategy remains
to resist development of student accommodation in the areas of Leeds
(1) The first priority then is to introduce measures in & around
Headingley to resist development of student accommodation. To this
end, the Lobby has advocated ASHORE
to Leeds City Council, and is campaigning for comprehensive HMO
licensing (License the Lot!)
and an Inner NW Area Action Plan
in Leeds’ Local Development Framework.
3.2 Reorientation: the second aim of the Strategy
remains to reorient student accommodation throughout Leeds.
(2) The next requirement is to encourage purpose-built accommodation
for students outside ASHORE, in order generally to relieve pressure
for conversions, and particularly, to avoid destabilisation and
degeneration. Specifically, the Lobby advocates in the City Centre
Area Action Plan the development of a circle of purpose-built student
residences around the city centre, sited to avoid community destabilisation.
(3) The need is also to avoid concentrations of HMO conversions
by encouraging private rented sector accommodation throughout the
city. To this end, the Lobby has advocated the Students
in the City policy (now being implemented by Unipol).
3.3 Revival: the third aim of the Strategy remains
to revive neighbourhoods degenerated by student accommodation.
(4) The object here is proactive revival of neighbourhoods which
remain potentially in high demand, by encouraging the return of
long-term residents, especially families. To this end, the Lobby
advocates promotion of Inner NW Leeds as Leeds
(5) The final priority is reactive revival of neighbourhoods which
are in danger of becoming low-demand areas. To this end, the Lobby
advocates development of social housing in such areas, possibly
through a Local Delivery Vehicle, which might be established by
Leeds City Council with organisations such as Housing Associations
and the Headingley Development
Leeds HMO Lobby, 7 November 2005
Leeds HMO Lobby