Councillors on Monday will vote on whether to approve plans to build student flats and co-living blocks on the site of Exeter’s former Heavitree Road police station and magistrates court. Exeter City Council officers are recommending that the scheme – which was been refused once before – is this time given the go-ahead.
This latest student flats scheme consists of 646 units. There is also a co-living element of 381 units, both of which have been reduced from the originial iteration of the plans.
It is one of several schemes currently going through the planning process. At the end of last month, detailed plans for a huge student bed development on Streatham Campus for the University of Exeter were submitted.
The University’s plans for the development of the Clydesdale, Nash and Birks Grange Village Halls of Residence site off Stocker Road, could deliver an additional 1,250 bedrooms.
But it comes as no surprise that not everyone in Exeter is in favour of purpose built student accommodation, even if the plans are often designed to free up housing in the city centre for locals rather than students to live in. One letter writer into our sister print title the Express and Echo says that the increasing number of students in the city is leading to a housing crisis for locals.
Read the letter by Andrew Bovey below
“The current population of Exeter is approximately 133,000. Of that number, 30,000-plus are University of Exeter students, 23 per cent of the total population.
They occupy 75 per cent of the private rented sector in the city centre wards, in addition to a multitude of unfilled purpose-built student complexes we all know so well! They are exempt from council tax so in effect contribute net zero to the maintenance of local services.
The oversubscribed student occupancy in the private rented sector has pushed the demand and prices way beyond the pockets of ordinary working families and low-income households. Buying is simply not an option for so many these days and social housing placement in Exeter has been a bad joke since jurassic times.
More bizarrely, the situation is not treated as a housing crisis by either the council leaders or the university.Our MP, by his own admission, prefers ‘not to meddle in council affairs’ as it seemingly only reveals what it wants him to know on specific questions anyway.
It’s down to local people to make the leaders accountable for their actions, challenge untenable situations and make their voice heard for the greater good of others.
We are looking at a wholesale exclusion of the local renting workforce who are being forced out to an expensive and frustrating existence as commuters. Whole areas of the city have lost their sense of community and are being systematically replaced by a cohort of night revellers who fail to integrate and stand aloof (frequently knee deep in their bottles and takeaway wrappers).
Commercially students bring income to private landlords and retailers, yet socially the city’s infrastructure and local facilities – like health services and the new sports complex, funded by taxpayers – are overwhelmed and locals excluded by the sheer weight of numbers.”