The site lay in an area that was very popular with students and a core strategy policy on purpose-built student accommodation offered general support to reduce the pressure on private rented houses. However, the policy also sought to avoid excessive concentrations of student accommodation where this would harm community balance and well-being.
The appellant accepted that around 65 per cent of the local population comprised students, of whom 99 per cent occupied houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) which accounted for between 80 and 90 per cent of properties on some streets. He was told that the return for private landlords meant that house prices had risen since the late 1990s, displacing families and other non-student groups.
He remarked that a "community" includes a group of people living in the same area and also embraces a social dimension and some degree of common interest and interaction. He also noted that areas with high student populations are typically subject to higher levels of crime, often directed at the students themselves, thus failing to provide for an inclusive and well balanced community.
In his opinion, the appeal scheme would further exacerbate the overconcentration of students, causing an imbalance in the population and giving rise to adverse impacts including noise, less well maintained gardens and dwellings and the establishment of facilities and services primarily designed to meet student needs to the exclusion of other users.
While recognising that the scheme would take some pressure off the use of conventional housing as student accommodation and deliver economic benefits, he held that the adverse impact on the community and local residents’ amenity was overriding. Allowing the proposal would affect the physical health and well-being of members of the community, alter the nature and make-up of local shops and services and increase demand for the use of limited green space, he found.
Inspector: Paul Singleton; Inquiry