Leeds HMO Lobby


Leeds HMO Lobby

What is a HMO?

The Lobby

Local Action
Policy Papers
Studentification in Leeds

National Action
Use Classes Order
HMO Licensing
Students & Community

National HMO Lobby

Leeds HMO Lobby



Student Accommodation in Leeds
Grand Strategy 2

1 Provision
The provision of student accommodation in Leeds has evolved over the years, but in the last decade, changes have been especially rapid.
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).

2 Problems
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 of forms.
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 in studentification. 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.

3 Policy
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 most affected.
(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 Left Bank.
(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 Trust.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 7 November 2005


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