Hallam questions need for more student flats in city

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Sheffield Hallam University is questioning the need for more big developments of student accommodation in the city, saying there were “many” empty beds this year.

It is raising concerns in response to a £25m scheme for more than 600 students next to Hyde Park flats that is currently under council scrutiny.

Backers of the project for Maltravers Road, Wybourn, believe there is still a demand for purpose-built student homes in Sheffield - and say the proposed complex would ease the strain on other parts of the city.

In a submission to the council, Karen Burke, Hallam’s accommodation services manager, says her initial response to the application is that “this is not an area where students would choose to live.

“Yes, there is a (student) property in the vicinity, The Pinnacles, but it is on the Park Square roundabout and with a location that meets the needs of some students studying at Sheffield Hallam University.

“There are also other potential developments that are in better locations and more suited to students studying at Sheffield Hallam University.”

But Ms Burke adds: “There are now over 20,000 bedspaces available in the city for students, whether they are studying at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University or Sheffield College and this gives a vast amount of choice, quality and value for money.”

As a city, Sheffield needs to ensure it does not “over exceed” demand, such as in Nottingham, Manchester and Leeds.

There is also a need for consultation over where students want to live and how many beds are already available, “many being empty this year”.

Forward Realty Ltd, which is based in Singapore, is seeking council permission to replace workshops in the Globe II Business Centre and a BT office tower in Maltravers Road with a complex up to 12 storeys with 641 bedrooms and its own shop, bar, restaurant, gym and laundry.

There would also be a business ‘incubation’ centre for small start-up ventures.

Although it would take Sheffield’s big student population into a relatively new area, the location has the advantage of being on the doorstep of Supertram, unlike traditional student areas such as London Road, Ecclesall Road, Broomhill, Ranmoor, Crookes and Walkley, it is argued.

Meanwhile, a report last July by estate agents Savills concluded that Sheffield - and other cities - could benefit from more purpose-built student accommodation.

The company estimated that 3,971 homes could return to family use if students swapped shared houses for specially-built flats.

Houses in multiple occupation price local tenants out of lettings and restrict the supply of conventional family homes.