Purpose-built student accommodation

Summary of Bristol Civic Society’s response to the Council’s draft supplementary planning document (SPD) on purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and shared living.

Although we have welcomed the preparation of this SPD because of the pressure for building PBSA and shared living accommodation, the Society’s response expressed a number of concerns with the draft document. In particular we thought that the draft:

  • Favoured the requirements of students slightly more than those of residents in assessing the needs of both communities. National Planning Policy Guidance encourages local authorities to consider options supporting the needs both of resident and student populations before preparing policy options.
  • Needed to reassess the basis for calculating the requirement for PBSA particularly in respect of the number of students in Bristol and the need to provide PBSA, not just for the expected increase in students but also in order to free up existing housing stock used by students for use by the resident community.
  • Did not include the impact of PBSA on routes between PBSA and the social, academic and other facilities used by students.
  • Proposed a model for assessing the density of PBSA in a given area that had a number of flaws.
  • Did not clearly show areas suitable and unsuitable for PBSA.
  • Did not require sufficient amenity space in PBSA to allow for future conversion to regular residential use.
  • Should include among the adverse impacts of PBSA graffiti and waste and recycling collection.
  • Should set clearer requirements for providing cycle parking.
  • Should strongly discourage the net loss land to PBSA from employment generating uses.
  • Require PBSA to make a contribution to general purpose affordable housing in mixed residential developments.
  • Was not clear in the proposed method of assessing the density of shared living accommodation.
  • Should give clearer advice to ensure that PBSA developments upheld the Council’s broader objectives for mitigating climate change and avoided the need for retro-fitting air conditioning and cooling equipment.

John Payne

Full Civic Society response.


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