By Peter Makossah
A new strategy has been conceived to increase the choice and quality of student housing in a bid to maximise the benefits of a growing student population in the city and to find better ways to tackle associated challenges for local communities in Nottingham.
Nottingham City Council wants to avoid certain areas of Nottingham being “dominated by students” as more than 10,000 new bed spaces are set to be built in the coming years. It is estimated that by the academic year of September 2025, there will be around 66,000 students studying at either Nottingham Trent University or the University of Nottingham, up from 61,000 last year.
Last year, city council figures show there were around 50,000 students needing accommodation in Nottingham, a figure set to rise to 56,582 by September 2025.
Both universities and the city council say they want to spread out Nottingham’s student population to prevent areas from being “overpowered” by them.
Being a host to two popular world-class universities brings huge benefits to Nottingham and students are important to the culture of the city, its economy and social scene and are part of Nottingham’s national and international reputation.
Both universities add a combined £3.8billion to the UK economy every year and support around 14% of the local economy, plus 25,000 jobs across the area.
The Student Living Strategy marks the first time that Nottingham City Council, the University of Nottingham, and Nottingham Trent University have made a formal commitment to work proactively together on shared priorities for housing and local services, as well as maximising the benefits that students bring to Nottingham.
The two higher learning institutions, together they have launched a four-week consultation so people in the city can have their say on the proposals.
Cllr Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Human Resources at Nottingham City Council, said: “Our universities and students are a fundamental part of Nottingham life and help to make the city the great place it is to live, work and play.
“We want Nottingham to be a city where people feel safe, an exciting and welcoming place, a city that is clean and environmentally sustainable, where we are ambitious for Nottingham people and businesses, and where everyone living here is proud of their city, their neighbourhood, and their local community.
“Our student community is vital to achieving this and with both universities bringing in millions to the economy each year, it is important that as a partnership we make sure students have the right places to live, that they become important members of the community and encourage more students to make this city their home after graduating.”
The Student Living Strategy sets out three main priorities: Improving the quality, safety, affordability, and location of student accommodation, and encouraging a better balance of student housing choice across the city, encouraging neighbourliness, where students contribute to creating a clean, attractive, and sustainable environment, and tackling the impact of waste and noise, and, increasing community cohesion, ensuring students are valued members of their communities and improving graduate retention in the city
Nottingham is a fantastic city which will continue to be a popular choice for students in the future, but rising numbers of students living in shared houses can have an impact on the number of homes available for families.
By actively encouraging the development of purpose-built student accommodation and using planning policy to restrict the conversion of family homes into shared rental properties, the council has taken steps to ensure families aren’t priced out of the market.
The council will also continue to use property accreditation and rented housing licences such as Selective, Additional and Mandatory HMO licensing, to help raise housing standards in rented student housing and act when properties aren’t up to scratch.
‘Proactively tackling antisocial behaviour’
Most students are good neighbours, and only a small percentage of reported antisocial behaviour in the city relates to students. But in some communities, with larger populations of student residents, challenges connected to waste, anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, and litter can become an issue.
In recent years, the universities have funded up to 2,000 hours of additional Community Protection Officer patrols to tackle noise and antisocial behaviour in areas with the highest concentration of students.
Student-facing campaigns encourage respect and participation in communities, including a ‘Welcome to the Community’ initiative; crime prevention; waste and recycling action days; leaflet drops; door knocking and encouragement to become Community Engagement Ambassadors.
Going forward, the universities have made a joint commitment to invest around £1M into the prevention and enforcement of issues related to waste, noise and other ASB this year. This is around a three-fold increase in spend since 2019/20.
‘Building strong community links’
There are almost 62,000 full time students studying in the city and both students and graduates bring vast economic, social, and cultural benefits to Nottingham. Each year, thousands of students undertake work placements and projects in Nottingham city businesses.
Both universities run internship and placement schemes for students and graduates, many in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), charities or social organisations.
In line with national figures, around 30% of graduates stay in Nottingham or the East Midlands.
By staying here, they contribute to Nottingham remaining vibrant and attractive and by investing their talent back into the local area, they are strengthening the city’s workforce, especially by retaining graduates in key professions where there are national shortages, for example. doctors, nurses, teachers, vets.
“We are delighted and excited in this partnership working which will further strengthen community relations and enable our students to feel welcomed and supported in calling Nottingham their home
“This plan is the start of something really quite powerful and will benefit our great city enormously.” Michael Lees, Director of Campus Services at Nottingham Trent University.
“This strategy will offer a new and positive partnership approach to dealing with challenges around ensuring the availability of good quality, appropriate housing for all Nottingham residents, building vibrant, positive communities and ensuring that we are capitalising on the talent and potential of the people who come to study and live in our city.
“We are keen to hear from students, other local residents and employers about how we achieve these positive outcomes for all.” Dr Paul Greatrix, Registrar, University of Nottingham.
“We want Nottingham to be a city where people feel safe, an exciting and welcoming place, a city that is clean and environmentally sustainableCouncillor Toby Neal