York’s university students are facing mixed news, with talks of a new halls of residence accompanied by proposals to restrict the number of private residences available for student let in the city.
Plans for a new £12 million halls of residence in the Walmgate area have begun in a hope to free up more traditional houses for families. The development would be built on a derelict site adjacent to the multi-storey car park in Hungate and would house 250 students. S Harrison Development Ltd, who are behind the proposed developments, have history in York, building the Gray’s Wharf and Percy’s Lane halls. They are now seeking the opinions of neighbours and councillors for whether a third student development would be welcome.
Student accommodation is in growing demand in the city and although the proposed development would offer some relief, it would also place a large proportion of students in one area of the city, creating a bigger divide between local residents and students. S Harrison point to the successful integration of students into the community in their other two developments, bring economic benefits too.
York’s houses of multiple occupation (HMO) measures are already in debate, with City of York Council currently deliberating a 20% threshold of HMOs allowed in any one street or area. The argument on the table for this move is that it would achieve a greater balance between residents and students across the city as a whole. Those in opposition see few issues with the setup as it currently is.
There are currently not enough spaces in halls of residence to accommodate York St John students, with applications for the university up 15 per cent this year. This means that a number of first years often miss out on their preferred choice of accommodation when it can be difficult to adapt to new surroundings. Halls are often in convenient locations close to the university, bills are often included in the rent, and hundreds of other students are in the same position, making it a great place to socialise and easing the transition into university life. Missing this can have a quite an impact on the university experience.
The plans are yet to be given the green light, so whatever side you take there is still time to voice an opinion and influence the decision.
Shawn Thomas, a student at York St. John University believes the community would benefit from the halls of residence saying: “ It makes sense for students all to be in one place. We would benefit from being in a close range together and residents would no longer have to suffer from student noise.”
Others, however, remain sceptical. Christopher Slaney, also a student at York St. John believes, “it’s an expensive project which will probably result in very expensive rent for the students. It is also bound to have an effect on long term residents in the area who will have to deal with large numbers of students, along with the disruption it can bring.”
It is now up to us as locals to join Councillors and the community policing team in deciding whether these dual proposals should see the light of day.
What do you think about the proposals?