Cardiff’s planning policy needs addressing before the city ends up being overshadowed by student accommodation.
That’s the view of one of Cardiff’s most respected property experts following news that plans are being submitted for another new block on Hallinans House, Newport Road which would comprise 464 student bedrooms.
One of a number of large-scale student accommodation schemes proposed for the Welsh capital - including 463-bedroom building on a site at Bridge Street and Charles Street and a 447-bedroom property on Customhouse Street - Mike Rees of Bruton Knowles is calling on planning officers to take a close look at the city’s policy on this issue in light of the pressing need for more private residential and affordable housing.
One of the arguments to slow down the number of proposed student towers is that the anticipated uptake could well be reaching saturation point.
According to Rees this is not an unnatural feature of the market given that schemes often take time to develop and where decisions are based on what might then have become outdated data and market evidence.
Evidence is also emerging of buildings being designed to enable re-adaptation to an alternative use, should the expected number of students not materialise.
He says a full strategic planning policy should now be formulated to shape delivery of student accommodation over the next five years with a much clearer directive on the number, type and location of property built.
Mike said: “This latest application, alongside all the other various schemes going on in the city, makes it feel like the city’s planning policy is out of control. Many of these buildings are also reaching heights which are arguably out of scale with the surrounding area and offer little in terms of design and aesthetic quality.
“Moreover it has an impact on both existing office stock, much of which is either being converted or redeveloped. It’s also at the expense of much needed affordable accommodation, noting that planning consents for student housing seem to escape any affordable housing or similar section 106 contribution.
“What is also evident is that relatively little new residential property has been built in the city since the last economic downturn.
“There is a shortage of private residential property being built in the city centre and means if nothing is done now, will leave a gaping hole in the supply of much needed new housing stock.”
With thousands of people currently waiting for new homes in Cardiff highlights the need to build more within the City itself.
Whereas the current local plan does allocate over 40,000 new homes, these are predominantly on the outskirts of the City, are within very large schemes that will take time to develop and come without any significant proposals to develop the infrastructure necessary to support them.
Mike added: “Cardiff needs better located new housing, both affordable and for private purchase. With the current wave of student accommodation, land use, scale of development and commercial advantage now appears out of balance with competing needs and as such planning policy urgently needs to consider the impacts this has on the wider community.”