Eight new student accommodation sites planned for Bristol

clifton suspension bridge

Bristol City Council has earmarked the sites that spread across the city in a recent draft policy

Bristol City Council has pinpointed eight major sites across the city for purpose-built accommodation. This comes ahead of expectations that the University of Bristol will require an extra 6,400 student beds in the city by 2028.

However, the council plans to control the size, quality and location of the new student halls in order to reduce the impact on local communities. The council has set out its policy for purpose-built student accommodation in its review of the local plan, the new version of which will guide development in the city up until 2036.

The draft policy allows a maximum of 7,500 new student bed spaces to be built in defined locations over the next 20 years.

The new student accommodation will be fairly spread out across the city. Up to 2,000 of these bed spaces would be permitted in the University of Bristol’s three existing sites, with up to 800 on its main campus, 200 in Clifton and 1,000 in Stoke Bishop. However, the remaining 3,200 bed spaces would be distributed across Broadmead, Bedminster, St Philip’s Marsh and West Harbour.

Central Bedminster could get up to 1,000 new bed spaces, whilst another 700 would be permitted in the St Philip’s Marsh area. Up to 1,000 more would be allowed in an area that stretches from Broadmead along the ‘Frome gateway’ to the north-east, and another 500 could be built in Western Harbour.

Sarah O’Driscoll, service manager for strategic city planning at Bristol City Council, commented on the policy: “[There’s] quite a concern locally that student accommodation can have a negative impact on the quality of the environment, certainly the perception of the quality of the environment, for local people.

“We also have a very significant need to allow the grow of the university,” she told council and industry housing representatives at a meeting of the Bristol Homes Board on March 21.

“So we’ve got a new policy coming forward which focuses very much on allowing only that kind of student accommodation which we know the university is behind and will support in a controlled way so that we don’t get more student accommodation growth than the university will accommodate.

“So we’re not creating a latent supply, we’re creating a direct supply that will meet specifically the needs of the university.”

The need for new student beds is apparent – student numbers at The University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE) have climbed by 18% in the last decade, and currently total 41,000.

UWE is planning to build extra student accommodation in South Gloucestershire rather than in Bristol, O’Driscoll noted.

At least 30% of the new student beds in the Bristol locations defined in the draft policy would be expected to be affordable. The draft policy also allows for new student halls at ‘appropriate’ locations identified and supported by local communities. Any such proposals should avoid areas which are mainly residential, such as St Paul’s, Old Market and parts of the Harbourside, according to
the policy.

The new purpose-built accommodation should also be of a “good standard” and have “no adverse impacts on surrounding communities”, it adds. New student halls must be car-free and “strongly discourage” students from bringing their cars to Bristol for the duration of their academic studies. They must also provide disabled parking and disabled access.

Members of the public have until May 24 to comment on the draft policies in the local plan review.

Image credit: Flickr – Kristoffer Trolle

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