News Stu­dent hous­ing ‘driv­ing busi­ness out of city cen­tre’

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

CLAIMS there is too much stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion be­ing built in Coven­try city cen­tre have been backed by one of Coven­try’s old­est com­pa­nies

Es­tate agents and auc­tion­eers Loveitts be­lieves busi­nesses are be­ing squeezed out and is urg­ing de­vel­op­ers to do more to get the bal­ance right.

A di­rec­tor at the firm has called on firms de­vel­op­ing projects in the city cen­tre not to ne­glect other mar­ket sec­tors at a time when the em­pha­sis seems to be focused on de­liv­er­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of stu­dent rooms. Loveitts says the net ef­fect is the loss of tra­di­tional of­fice ac­com­mo­da­tion, which is driv­ing other com­mer­cial en­ter­prises out of the city cen­tre.

John Pugh, a di­rec­tor of the firm which this year cel­e­brates its 175th an­niver- sary, said he ac­cepted the need for stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion, given ev­er­in­creas­ing de­mand.

He said: “Ob­vi­ously, the im­por­tance of the stu­dent sec­tor is recog­nised with Coven­try of­fer­ing two first class uni­ver­si­ties, with more than 20,000 new stu­dents from over 140 coun­tries mak­ing Coven­try and War­wick­shire their home this year.”

But Mr Pugh pointed to the preva­lence of largescale stu­dent de­vel­op­ments which have been built or are cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion. They in­clude Gos­ford Gate, Mil­len­nium View, Bel­grade Plaza and Bish­op­gate.

He said plan­ning has also been granted for a new 266-bed stu­dent block on Harper Road al­most di­rectly facing Coven­try University, ac­knowl­edg­ing that Loveitts acted for the landowner in putting the deal to­gether.

But he be­lieves the loss of of­fice space poses a prob­lem.

He said: “Within the city cen­tre it­self though and on the pe­riph­ery of the ring road sig­nif­i­cant for­mer of­fice space has now been lost to stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion, most ob­vi­ously on Queens Road which pre­vi­ously of­fered lo­cal busi­nesses and pro­fes­sional oc­cu­piers a range of tra­di­tional of­fice ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“This is now an area pre­dom­i­nantly com­pris­ing HMO stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“More­over, a num­ber of build­ings within the ring road it­self are now be­ing tar­geted as suit­able for con­ver­sion to stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

He added: “This will in­evitably force ex­ist­ing of­fice oc­cu­piers out of the city cen­tre and po­ten­tially out of Coven­try it­self, if the city is un­able to re­spond to the cur­rent chal­lenge and pro­vide suit­able of­fice ac­com­mo­da­tion for its com­mer­cial en­ter­prises – as well as the stu­dent rooms re­quired to meet cur­rent de­mand.

“De­vel­op­ers want prop­er­ties to be stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion rather than of­fices but if of­fice oc­cu­piers are forced out of the city cen­tre then the other con­trib­u­tors to the lo­cal econ­omy could fol­low.”

A greater mix is need­edCalling for a greater mix of de­vel­op­ments in the city cen­tre, Mr Pugh said: “There are numer­ous com­mer­cial en­ter­prises which favour a city cen­tre lo­ca­tion as of­ten they are deal­ing with gen­eral mem­bers of the public – es­tate agents, ac­coun­tants and so­lic­i­tors be­ing a case in point, amongst many oth­ers. A hy­brid ap­proach to city cen­tre de­vel­op­ments will lead to sus­tain­able growth for all stake­hold­ers.”

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