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Student accommodation ‘creating a divide’ between St Ann’s and city

Further student developments near St Ann’s have been criticised by residents and councillors, with one claiming it has “created a divide” between the district and the city.

Members of the community in St Ann’s spoke out last week after another student development off Huntingdon Street was given the go-ahead by Nottingham City Council’s planning committee.

Developers will demolish existing offices in King Edward Street, Glasshouse Street and Kent Street, known as King Edward Court, to build the purpose-built accommodation block including 552 student bedrooms.

“They’re creating a divide between the city and St Ann’s, the high-rise buildings,” said Dave Liversidge, ward councillor for St Ann’s.

He said that he had objected to “most” student accommodation.

“I’m not against the students living in the area but it’s all high-rise. It’s the height of them that’s causing a problem for me and they’re all over that part of St Ann’s, all around Huntingdon Street.”

Residents echoed concerns around the approved development, which received objections from another unnamed councillor, who claimed it was “breaking up” the communities in the suburb, calling for a focus on providing more social housing.

Sahera Darby, a 54-year-old care assistant from St Ann’s, said she understood the need for student housing but added: “The council needs to improve, they need to find somewhere to build housing here.

“They should because there are houses round here that are in a really bad state and not fit for purpose.”

John Eagle, a 70-year-old St Ann’s resident, added: “There’s too much student accommodation in St Ann’s. There needs to be more houses for people to live in.”

However, Cllr Liversidge said the issue was much more complex, insisting the council could do little to stop the developments.

“The reality is the planning system allows these big companies to come in and build,” he said.

“And if the council objects they just go nationally and get it through.

“I would be with residents wanting social housing because I think it’s the biggest issue in the country, but student housing is a separate issue as they are the only one who can afford it.”

Councillor Linda Woodings, portfolio holder for planning and housing at Nottingham City Council, said: “Nottingham has seen an increase in students of around 30% over the past decade as our successful universities continue to attract more people to study.

“As a planning authority we can’t refuse permission simply on the basis that an application is for student accommodation – Government planning guidance is clear we must plan to meet all housing needs in the city including for students – but it’s important to remember many other types are also being built.

“And while some may feel there’s already too much new student accommodation, in fact new developments have not kept pace with increased demand, with our latest survey showing 98% occupancy levels.”