Social cohesion erosion from student accommodation rejected

In allowing an appeal involving the change of use of two houses to six self-contained flats an inspector rejected the local authority's claim that it would undermine social cohesion by increasing the number of students living in the area.

The town was home to one of the main campuses serving the University of South Wales. The council claimed that 60 per cent of residents were aged between 16 and 29 compared with 18 per cent in the borough as a whole. The area also had the lowest percentage of home ownership and a higher proportion of takeaways. This had led to a degradation in the local environment, the council alleged, reinforcing the area as a ‘student community’. 
However, the inspector decided that the council had failed to demonstrate that there was a need for more family housing nor that the local environment had been materially undermined. In her opinion, cohesive communities were sustained and created by providing spaces for people to interact and the university specifically encouraged such activities. The type of accommodation proposed was also more likely to encourage students to remain in the area throughout the year. Nor did the inspector agree that the scheme would lead to additional on-street parking pressures. 
Inspector: Joanne Burston; Written representations

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