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There should be no ban on building further huge blocks of student flats in Plymouth because there is still demand and they are vital for the future of the city centre, an expert says.

Mark Slade, of property consultants Bruton Knowles, said Plymouth is now the fifth largest student city in the UK and Plymouth City Council should think again after it announced restrictions on new planning applications for student accommodation.

He admitted public opinion had turned against the idea of huge student blocks in Plymouth and other major UK cities.

But he stressed there is still demand for student accommodation in Plymouth, because the university is still growing.

And he said having students living in the centre of the city adds to its "vibrancy" and will support businesses which may struggle without student spending.

"We fully agree Plymouth should not allow the city centre to become reliant on students – but they do bring vibrancy back to areas which had become far too quiet to support the businesses operating there," Mr Slade said.

"We have similar reports coming in from Bath and Cardiff, where colleagues are reporting the public mood is turning against further large scale student accommodation buildings.

"But Plymouth University is getting bigger and this brings vibrancy back to our streets and investment into every branch of business.

"The people we are meeting believe student accommodation still has a shelf life in this city."

Mr Slade spoke up after the council said there is enough student accommodation already, with more than 7,450 bed spaces either built or on their way.

Among schemes under construction are the 507-flat, 23-floor, Beckley Court, at the top of Armada Way, and Crescent Point, behind Plymouth Athenaeum, which will house more than 300 students.

Mr Slade, who is based at Bruton Knowles' Lockyer Street office, near the Crescent Point site, said Plymouth needs a "more balanced approach" to providing adequate accommodation for students.

He said the council should retain a "flexibility" rather than setting limits.

He said: "Plymouth City Council has vowed to take a more stringent approach to new planning applications for student accommodation – and they are right to insist the situation must be closely monitored.

"But this demand is being driven by increasing numbers of foreign students.

"Plymouth University could have as many as 22,000 students and they have to live somewhere."

Bruton Knowles has been brokering the investment sale of a student investment in Harwell Street, close to the campus, Mr Slade said.

"It is a good 10 minutes' walk from the university but it has already been fully let for the 2017-18 academic year," he said.

"This demonstrates the enormous demand – especially from foreign students – for good quality accommodation in Plymouth.

"We understand people are concerned at the number of new schemes going up around the city centre.

"We have a 348 bed student accommodation block going up just behind our office."

For help with all your property matters contact Mark Slade on 01752 936101 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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