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Cardiff faces crisis in private student accommodation

Cardiff is facing a crisis as continued investments by private companies into the student housing market fail to attract adequate attention from students, leaving to empty buildings.

Two developments have applied for their halls to be allowed to let to non-students. One of which, Livin Cardiff, on City Road, is applying for a temporary shift until September 2018, having not received enough students willing to take the rooms.

Management agency CRM, who manage the property, said in papers being sent to Cardiff council that they have found letting to students to be “very competitive and therefore challenging”.

They also said: “In an era of shortages of accommodation, we feel an obligation to our clients to advise them to seek alternative occupiers wherever possible, and that we investigate every opportunity to ensure no room remains unlet and opportunities for homes are made available to the non-student market”.While there seems to be a waning demand for bespoke student living, many more buildings have been planned for the coming years, right in the heart of the city.

Currently, blocks of student flats do not classify as housing, and are therefore cheaper to build, and there is much less of a requirement for adequate light and space, as well as being cheaper in terms of construction contributions to councils.

The second complex applying for a change in usage was the Eclipse accommodation in Adamsdown. Cardiff University said in a statement that the average rent per week in the city (including bills) for a student is £87.82. This pales in comparison to Eclipse, which costs £137 per week, with prices peaking at £287 per week for the most expensive double occupancy in a one-bed apartment.

Despite this, huge construction projects are planned for the very near future, including one set to be Wales’ tallest building. The structure will sit in Custom House Street/ Bute Street (behind John Lewis), and could contain over 400 student flats.

Cardiff Council approved measures last year to limit the number of houses in multiple occupations (often student houses) in Cathays and Roath, to “retain balanced communities and secure a high standard of development”, a move which appears to contradict the scale of developments of student accommodation in the heart of the city centre.

If a precedent has been set by the demand for student flats already in Cardiff, then it is unclear the benefits that these new structures will bring, both to the commissioning companies and to the City itself.

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