UK

Lack of demand for student property compels student property manager to look for alternatives

A Cardiff property manager seeks permission to use its student accommodation for professional serviced apartments

With falling demand for student property in Cardiff, property managers are seeking permission from the local council to use the property for student accommodation as well as professional serviced apartments. Recent times have seen a decrease in demand for student property in the city which has led a CRM students, a manager company, to let out the rooms to non-students because of lack of vacancy at its construction.

However, it is not that more constructions are not taking place. There are 21 major property developments in Cardiff which are either already open, under construction or being considered for permission. At present, thousands of rooms in purpose-built student blocks with much lower standards and costs than normal flats are being built or applied for across Cardiff. Approval has been granted by planners for another seven buildings totaling 2,696 beds and plans for other developers with thousands more beds in the pipeline.

Some of the student accommodations which are already open include Fitzalan Court, The Neighbourhood, Windsor House, Arofan House and Glendower House with more than 1,000 beds. Apart from these, there is another student accommodation plan that is awaiting construction approval from the authorities. Offering accommodation to 450 students, it would be Wales’ biggest building.

At present, the company in concern, CRM students is seeing a lack of accommodation at its student apartments which has compelled it to apply for permission to use the apartments for dual-use purposes. In its application to the local council, it said that it operates three other apartments in the city but expressed its inability to market the properties to students. It termed student accommodation to be competitive and challenging. CRM students said that the rooms at its constructions are likely to remain vacant until it adopts alternative letting strategies and have the rooms occupied by non-student tenants. The management company said that it feels the obligation to advise block owners to seek alternative uses for properties. It has asked clients to seek alternative occupiers whenever possible as there is a shortage of accommodation. It expressed its commitment to explore every opportunity to let out the vacant properties to the non-student market.

The block is called Living Cardiff and will be open in January 2018 and offer rooms at £135 per week. It includes a private gym, cinema room, broadband and all inclusive utility bills.

CRM Students said that due to the self-contained nature of room types at Living (studio apartments), this property is not only suitable for both student and non-student occupancy simultaneously, but that it will also be a popular residence with both markets. It explained that the proposed temporary use is appropriate for the location. It said that it would ensure that the high quality development does not remain vacant till the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.

The application has sought a flexible use for the apartments which would allow them to first fill the development with students, then use any vacant rooms as professionally serviced apartments taking into account the demand and capacity.

However, the application by a student property manager is not first that has come up with the local council seeking permission to use student flats for general tenants. Earlier in February, Eclipse development had sought similar permission that was granted by the council.

Planning consultants Alder King attributed the change to an “uncertainty” about student uptake.

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