Council Response to Student Housing Letter

In January we published our letter to Cllr Welsh, the Cabinet Member responsible for housing. The Coventry Society complained about the uncontrolled growth of high-rise student housing blocks in the city in the context of the Coronavirus epidemic and Brexit and the lack of any proper forecasts of the need for student accommodation. Below is the response from Cllr Welsh:

Many thanks for your letter regarding the development of student accommodation in the City. It was good to meet you and your fellow members prior to Christmas and I look forward to working with you in the future.

As you note in your letter, data regarding the supply and demand of student accommodation was produced as part of the Local Plan process. The Local Plan was adopted in 2017 following a robust and independent public Examination. Any amendments to the Plan need to be evidence-based and need to be consulted upon and
brought forward through the appropriate regulatory process.

The Local Plan will be undergoing a review, as per the government guidance, by December 2022 and the evidence base will be refreshed as part of that process. This will include a comprehensive review of our Local Housing Need as well as considering the efficacy of other policies, and I am sure that you and your members will be actively involved in the process. This work will also consider the requirement and provision of
student accommodation in the city. It would not be appropriate to introduce a moratorium on a specific form of development pre-emptively, before evidence can be refreshed or analysed.

Your points regarding the future usability of buildings, either through design or construction, are important and I have instructed officers to ensure that these are considered in future research and drafting of policies. As you may be aware imposing any requirements that surpass current local and national standards would need to be made in a strategic document of Local Plan stature, and cannot come forward through Supplementary Planning Documents. The Plan Review is, therefore, the best way of considering and taking this forward.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to stress the benefits that the University and its students bring to the City, both in terms of economic and intellectual capital. Many students do stay in the cities they study in, and we need to ensure that there are attractive and clear pathways to do so, benefitting the current and future residents of the City.

Once again, many thanks for your active and valued contributions, and I look forward to meeting members again soon.

Yours sincerely
Councillor David Welsh
Cabinet Member for Housing & Communities

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