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National HMO Lobby



Balanced Communities or Studentification?
News Release, 5 March 2008

Will the government get it right this time? Will they honour their commitment to creating sustainable communities? Or will they allow a new generation of universities to destabilise yet more communities through studentification? Those who suffered the first time round are challenging the government to get it right!

Creating Sustainable Communities was the motto of the old ODPM. Its policies on sustainable communities have been inherited by Communities & Local Government. But a major saboteur of sustainability in university towns was the expansion of higher education, and the appropriation of whole communities for student housing - or studentification. Now John Denham, Minister for Universities, has announced plans for twenty more universities. Will these have the same impact?

There is some cause for optimism. The government has agreed to consider planning legislation which will allow local councils greater control over shared houses (whether or not occupied by students). The whole private rented sector is under review, with particular attention to the role of student housing. And John Denham, before his elevation as Minister, said, "It is the reality that, if there are areas in which the concentration of student housing is very great, there cannot be a balanced and sustainable community."

That there are problems is acknowledged by both Universities UK and by NUS. Both have published guides on how to respond to these problems - though both are inadequate, because neither recognises the reality of the problems. Now the National HMO Lobby, representing the local communities at the sharp end, is publishing its own contribution to the debate, a new paper on Balanced Communities & Studentification.

This publication is innovative in three ways. First, for the first time, it offers a workable definition of 'balanced community', the essential pre-requisite for a sustainable community - that is, a balanced community is one that approximates national demographic norms - it's a community that everyone recognises as relatively normal. Secondly, it offers a definition and analysis of studentification - which is where a local community is substituted by a student community - and all this entails. Finally, it offers a Ten Point Plan, to address the real roots of the existing problems - or to prevent them arising in the first place. The Lobby endorses the policy proposal recommended by Dr Julie Rugg (who is conducting the PRS Review) that "a housing strategy should be integral to the expansion plans of every HEI, and comprise an analysis of likely impacts on the local rental market and consultation with local community groups."

The National HMO Lobby's Balanced Communities & Studentification will be formally launched at the Conference Agenda for Change held by the Councillors Campaign for Balanced Communities in Nottingham on 13 March 2008.

Contact: Dr Richard Tyler, Co-ordinator, National HMO Lobby,

1. The National HMO Lobby is a network of over fifty local community groups in thirty or more towns throughout the UK, concerned with the impact of concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) on their communities; see The Councillors Campaign for Balanced Communities is a network of these communities' elected representatives in local government. In national government, their elected representatives have established the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sustainable & Balanced Communities.
2. Balanced Communities & Studentification is attached. It is also available online at Printed copies are available from Dr Tyler.
3. See Universities UK, Studentification: a guide to opportunities, challenges and practice (2006); the Lobby's response is at
4. See National Union of Students, Students in the Community: Working together to achieve harmony (2007); the Lobby's response is at
5. CLG's policies on sustainable communities are at
6. See DIUS, A New University Challenge at; also, Jo Revill, 'Plans for 20 new university towns, Observer, 2 March 2008, at,,2261433,00.html
7. The Private Rented Sector Review was announced in January. A Policy Round Table on Student Housing was held on 4 March. The Lobby's submission is at
8. John Denham's comment was made in a debate on Balanced & Sustainable Communities, Westminster Hall, 5 June 2007.
9. The CCBC Conference is organised by Unipol Student Homes.


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