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Policy H17 Purpose-built student accommodation

H17

  1. Boroughs should seek to ensure that local and strategic need for purpose-built student accommodation is addressed, provided that:
    1. at the neighbourhood level, the development contributes to a mixed and inclusive neighbourhood
    2. the use of the accommodation is secured for students
    3. the accommodation is secured for occupation by members of one or more specified higher education institutions
    4. at least 35 per cent of the accommodation is secured as affordable student accommodation as defined through the London Plan and associated guidance
    5. the accommodation provides adequate functional living space and layout.
  2. Boroughs, student accommodation providers and higher education institutions are encouraged to develop student accommodation in locations well-connected to local services by walking, cycling and public transport, but away from existing concentrations in central London as part of mixed-use regeneration and redevelopment schemes.
Comment on this section

London’s higher education institutions make a significant contribution to its economy and labour market. It is important that their attractiveness and potential growth are not compromised by inadequate provision for new student accommodation. The housing need of students in London, whether in Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) or shared conventional housing, is an element of the overall housing need for London determined in the 2017 London SHMA. London’s overall housing need in the SHMA is expressed in terms of the number of conventional self-contained housing units. However, new flats, houses or bedrooms in PBSA all contribute to meeting London’s housing need. The completion of new PBSA therefore contributes to meeting London’s overall housing need and is not in addition to this need. Every three student bedrooms in PBSA that are completed equate to meeting the same need that one conventional housing unit meets, and contribute to meeting a borough’s housing target (set out in Table 4.1) at the same ratio of three bedrooms being counted as a single home.

Comment on this section

The overall strategic requirement for PBSA in London has been established through the work of the Mayor’s Academic Forum, and a requirement for 3,500 PBSA bed spaces to be provided annually over the Plan period has been identified. Meeting the requirement for PBSA should not undermine policy to secure mixed and inclusive neighbourhoods.

Comment on this section

The strategic need for PBSA is not broken down into borough-level targets as the location of this need will vary over the Plan period with changes in higher education institutions’ estate and expansion plans, availability of appropriate sites, and changes in Government policy that affect their growth and funding. To demonstrate there is a local need for a new PBSA development and ensure the accommodation will be supporting London’s higher education institutions, the student accommodation must either be operated directly by a higher education institution or the development must have an undertaking in place from initial occupation, to provide housing for students at one or more specified higher education institutions, for as long as the development is used for student accommodation. A majority of the bedrooms in the development must be covered by such an undertaking. Therefore, the borough should ensure, through condition or legal agreement, that the development will continue to maintain a nominations agreement or enter new nomination agreements with one or more specified education institution(s) for a majority of the bedrooms in the development, for as long as it is used as student accommodation or such time period as the borough considers is appropriate. There is no requirement for the higher education institution linked by the agreement to the PBSA to be located within the borough where the development is proposed.

Comment on this section

If the accommodation is not secured for use by students and for occupation by members of one or more specified higher educational institutions as set out in paragraph Policy H18 Large-scale purpose-built shared living,  it will not be considered as purpose-built student accommodation or meeting a need for purpose-built student accommodation; and the development proposal will be considered large-scale purpose-built shared living and be assessed by the requirements of Policy H18 Large-scale purpose-built shared living.

Comment on this section

PBSA should provide adequate functional living space and layout for the occupants. The design of the development must be high quality and in accordance with the requirements of Policy D1 London’s form and characteristics.

Comment on this section

To ensure students with an income equivalent to that provided to full-time UK students by state-funded sources of financial support for living costs can afford to stay in PBSA, a proportion (35 per cent) of bedrooms in PBSA are required to be affordable at this income level. The rental cost for this affordable student accommodation has been defined through the work of the Mayor’s Academic Forum[60]. In addition, the Mayor seeks the development of student accommodation which is affordable for the student body as a whole. Providers of PBSA are encouraged to develop models for delivery of PBSA in London which minimise rental costs for the majority of the bedrooms in the development and bring these rates nearer to the rate of affordable student accommodation.

[60] The Mayor’s Academic Forum is composed of representatives from the boroughs, universities, private and voluntary sector accommodation providers and students, and is chaired and serviced by the GLA.

Comment on this section

The definition of affordable student accommodation is a PBSA bedroom that is provided at a rental cost for the academic year equal to or below 55 per cent of the maximum income that a new full-time student studying in London and living away from home could receive from the Government’s maintenance loan for living costs for that academic year. The actual amount the Mayor defines as affordable student accommodation for the coming academic year is published in the Mayor’s Annual Monitoring Report. Should the Government make significant changes to the operation of the maintenance loan for living costs as the main source of income available from the Government for higher education students, the Mayor will review the definition of affordable student accommodation and may provide updated guidance.

Comment on this section

The amount of affordable student accommodation provided in a development should be 35 per cent of student bedrooms in the development. If 35 per cent affordable student accommodation is not met, a scheme will be considered under the Viability Tested Route in line with part E of Policy H6 Threshold approach to applications and the Mayor’s Affordable Housing and Viability SPG. The amount of affordable student accommodation provided in a development and its rental costs should be secured and managed through a legal agreement for as long as the development is used for student accommodation.

Comment on this section

The affordable student accommodation should be equivalent to the non-affordable rooms in the development in terms of room sizes and room occupancy level. The rent charged must include all services and utilities which are offered as part of the package for an equivalent non-affordable room in the development. There should be no additional charges specific to the affordable accommodation.

Comment on this section

The initial annual rental cost for the element of affordable accommodation should not exceed the level set out in the Mayor’s Annual Monitoring Report for the relevant year. For following years, the rental cost for this accommodation can be linked to changes in a nationally-recognised index of inflation such as the Consumer Prices Index or CIPH[61]. A review period, such as every three years, could be set by the borough to allow for recalibrating the affordable student accommodation to the level stated as affordable in the Mayor’s Annual Monitoring Report.

[61] CPIH is a new additional measure of consumer price inflation including a measure of owner occupiers’ housing costs, please see this webpage for further information https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/qmis/consumerpri....

Comment on this section

Where the development is not operated directly by a higher education institution the affordable student accommodation bedrooms should be part of the PBSA that is subject to a nominations agreement. Allocation of affordable student accommodation should be by the higher education institution(s) which operates it or has the nomination right to it, and the institution(s) should allocate the rooms to students it considers most in need of the accommodation.

Comment on this section

To enable providers of PBSA to maximise the delivery of affordable student accommodation by increasing the profitability of the development, boroughs should consider allowing the temporary use of accommodation during vacation periods for ancillary uses. Examples of such uses, amongst others, include providing accommodation for conference delegates, interns on university placements, and students on short-term education courses at any institution approved in advance by the borough. Conditions and/or legal agreements could be attached to any planning permission to ensure that the ancillary use does not result in a material change of use of the building.

Comment on this section

Where a PBSA development meets all the requirements of part A of Policy H17 Purpose-built student accommodation boroughs should not require on-site provision of, or a contribution towards, conventional Use Class C3 affordable housing.

Comment on this section