Cambridge’s housing problem will affect our rents too

Spectre of rising rents as both Cambridge Unis are short of accommodation

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New figures are out showing how students dominate Cambridge housing. But the problem is we need 8,000 more.

The figures, from Cambridge City Council, show 2,309 Cambridge properties were exempt from council tax as they were occupied by students, with a further 1,243 properties designated as halls of residence.

But estate agents, Carter Jonas, recently suggested there was a shortfall of more than 8,000 beds for full-time students at both Cambridge and ARU.

CB1 – just one of the many accommodations around Cambridge

The latest plans are for 342 student flats at Castle Court off Castle Street and 321 flats opposite Cambridge retail park on Newmarket Road. That’s clearly not enough.

And it’s not good news for those – whether colleges or students – buying or renting these.

Many new purpose-built developments have been made up of both ‘cluster flats’ and studios – which typically cost more.

Student accommodation at Purbeck House, off Hills Road, was yesterday being advertised from £209 per week.

We pay for luxury

Labour Councillor Kevin Blencowe said: “One of the problems we’ve got is the housing providers are providing, in their view, higher-spec student accommodation, but that’s more expensive and in some cases very expensive,

“When these student housing providers are charging much higher rent than the students can afford, common sense says let’s get together and share a house.

“Clearly there’s a tendency at the moment towards pure student accommodation on these sites, which suggests to me there’s a financial return there.”

According to Kevin, the council are taking steps to address this issue, with the emerging local plan seeking to remove a condition that allows developers to substitute their allocation of affordable housing for student housing.

More and more accommodations are being constructed

Paul Harris, residential service manager at Anglia Ruskin, said: “It’s clear there’s intense competition for private accommodation, with demand not only coming from our students and second year Cambridge University students, but also organisations such as private colleges, language schools and even dance studios.

“Our preferred option is for students to live in purpose built ‘cluster’ style accommodation, with students having individual bedrooms, and sharing communal kitchens and living areas, which is generally more affordable and also provides a good student experience.”

Currently, the city’s plan is being exaimed by a planning inspector. There is due to be a specific hearing on student housing in the next couple of months.