Student accommodation falls short

An inspector rejected a scheme to provide student accommodation in a former apart-hotel located in a London town centre because of the poor living conditions it would create for occupiers.

The building comprised four-storeys and a basement, with student rooms on all five floors. The inspector acknowledged the absence of nationally defined standards for student accommodation and that the council had not adopted their own standards, but considered that whilst the student rooms did not have to meet conventional housing standards they had to be better than those expected by a visitor to a hotel for a short period.

In the inspector’s assessment, the single aspect outlook from many of the rooms at basement and ground floor onto walls and fences in close proximity created unsatisfactory living conditions with poor natural light and outlook. Furthermore, the inspector held that the range and distribution of communal facilities throughout the building would not meet occupants' needs, and was a particular concern given the limited size of the private rooms, varying between thirteen and fifteen square metres. In addition, a unilateral undertaking restricting occupation to students was incomplete and no provision had been made for affordable housing. Despite the appellant’s claims regarding the benefits of a sustainable location, use of a brownfield site, freeing up homes and contributing to the borough’s housing target, the inspector concluded the harm in relation to the main issues was not outweighed and dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: J Williamson; Written representations

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