Student flats won't benefit residents, says councillor

December 05 2016

PLANS to create student accommodation in Fishponds will be of little benefit to residents, according to Frome Vale councillor Nicola Bowden-Jones.



PLANS to create student accommodation in Fishponds will be of little benefit to residents, according to Frome Vale councillor Nicola Bowden-Jones.

Greensky Developments wants to transform a disused building next to the police station in Straits Parade into 31 studio spaces and four two-bedroomed flats, known as 'twodios'.

But Councillor Bowden-Jones, who attended a meeting about the proposals at the Kingfisher Cafe, says the benefits to the community are "minimal" and accused the developer of trying to maximise profits.

She said: "National housing regulations require properties for single residents to be a minimum of 52 square metres - there is no minimum for student accommodation, so developers are able to maximise their profits by making smaller dwellings.

"As students don't pay council tax or live locally for 52 weeks of the year, the benefits to the local economy are minimal."

The plans, which were due to be submitted to Bristol City Council at the end of November, feature a communal laundry, bins spaces and secure cycle storage.

There are plans to install solar panels to generate a significant proportion of solar-powered energy.

Each studio would be self contained with a kitchen and bathroom.

"There is no requirement for affordable homes with student developments and my concerns are that local residents will suffer," said Cllr Bowden-Jones. 

"I understand students need accommodation, but we need to build balanced communities and I do not feel that this development will make a contribution to this, although it would bring custom to the existing businesses located within the current site."

The Labour councillor is also querying the materials used and their future impact on Fishponds street scene: "It has also been pointed out that the intended rendering on the property is of a low standard, and the appearance of the development with deteriorate significantly due to the effects of weather and pollution."

Residents have commented on Cllr Bowden-Jones' Facebook page after she posted details about the plans.

One said: "Is student accommodation really the highest priority for housing in Bristol or is it the most profitable?"

Another argued: "Why is Bristol turning into a student housing estate? I appreciate that students have to live somewhere but affordable housing for all should be a priority."

But some are in favour of the plans with one woman saying: "It'd be be nice to see the area spruced up" and another stating: "The existing building is an eyesore therefore some sort of development will be good."

Another poster agreed with Cllr Bowden-Jones concerns about the building's proposed appearance: "Drawings appear to show a finish which is crisp to start with but very quickly appears dirty and doesn't weather well."

Residents and traders will get the chance to comment on the plans as soon as they go live on Bristol City Council's website.