Leeds student flats surplus

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Leeds has almost 5,000 more student flats than it needs - but developers still want to apply in their droves to build more.

A Leeds City Council housing watchdog panel heard students have been making a mass exodus from their traditional heartlands of Headingley and Hyde Park, moving instead to purpose built flats in and around the city centre.

Leeds currently has a student population of 59,000.

But with tuition fees and other factors impacting application numbers, the city’s universities have been “reluctant” to commit their views on predicted student numbers beyond 2016.

Leeds already has a “potential surplus of 4,700 bed spaces”, the housing and regeneration scrutiny panel was told, and this could get worse.

The council has been left in a policy dilemma, as a Government inspector recently ruled that it could NOT limit the number of applications from developers of student flats by making them prove there was a need in the city.

Members of the authority’s housing scrutiny panel expressed concerns developers might be trying to avoid paying extra taxes by applying to “flip” the purpose built student flats into general accommodation.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s cabinet member for housing, said there had been a “flight of students” from areas like Headingley.

He laid the blame for the current “conundrum” on a “hostile planning framework which we face nationally”.

“We don’t want people putting up massive speculative developments when we are being told already that they won’t be filled,” he said,

“We wish we could do more.”

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