Letter from Ann in Edinburgh Evening News 15 Feb 2018
Recent reports of the £24 million deal for USAF (Unite Students Accommodation Fund) to purchase the student accommodation at 123 Fountainbridge, should give cause for concern.
These purpose-built, privately owned blocks are described as providing affordable accomodation for students. Affordable?
Ensuite rooms in a shared flat costing around £160 a week/ £690 monthly, or a studio flat at £215 weekly, this is not affordable housing.
By restricting land use to student purpose-built blocks, developers appear to be exempt from other residential regulations, which can lead to pressures on other local council and NHS services as they face increased demand from the student population.
Providing affordable and appropriate housing for the growing student population should be of public interest and should take more account of the diverse nature of the student body.
At the University of Edinburgh, one quarter of student population is over the age of 25 – many of these are postgraduates, often with families and other commitments.
Housing needs will very greatly as students and university staff make their homes in the city. It’s about homes not just accommodation.
The city council is reviewing the mix of tenure in the city as part of its business plan for the future.
However, while student accommodation provision sits outside the goals of providing affordable housing for all, the reality is one of high rents and very limited housing options, and this must be addressed.
Students are citizens too.