Student accommodation would not provide for appropriate mix of housing

A redevelopment proposal to provide 62 student apartments in a residential area of a Berkshire settlement was refused for its conflict with local and national policies to protect the character and appearance of the area, the living conditions of adjoining residents and an appropriate density and mix of residential development in the area.

One of the many issues at the site related to the proposal’s impact on the overall density and mix of residential development in the area. 

The council had an adopted local plan policy which required an appropriate density and mix of residential development in an area informed by an assessment of the characteristics and mix of uses there. The inspector held this policy was consistent with paragraph 61 of the NPPF. The appellant argued the proposed student accommodation would divert student demand from established housing areas and would accommodate students at a higher density to that of traditional housing and the scheme would not overwhelm the area and would meet an unmet demand.

The council, whilst accepting that purpose-built student accommodation would free up some existing homes, argued that it could also prevent a site being used to meet more general housing needs, including that of affordable housing. They argued an overprovision of student housing could affect townscape character by not providing an appropriate residential mix and referred to two recent permissions for such accommodation in a nearby part of the town. The inspector sided with the council in weighing up the issue citing no specific evidence of need for further student accommodation and no evidence of "appropriate density and mix" from the appellant. She held the proposal would conflict with local and national policies in this regard. She refused the proposal for this reason, alongside strong concerns about overdevelopment of the site.

Inspector: Nicola Davies; Written representations

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