COUNCILLORS Urged To Give Go-Ahead For Two Student Housing Developments

23 November, 2023 | Student Accommodation

GLASGOW city planners are recommending approval for two major student accommodation developments, with a total of 900 rooms.

Councillors on the city’s planning committee are due to consider the applications on Tuesday.

A complex with around 630 student rooms plus some commercial units is proposed for the former Marks and Spencer site between Sauchiehall Street and Renfrew Street, which has been vacant since April 2022.

The current building would be demolished apart from the 1930s facade.

It would have five commercial units. It’s anticipated one of these would be a convenience store. Talks have also been held with the health service about their need for a GP surgery in the area.

The historic Wellington Arcade that linked Sauchiehall Street with Renfrew Street will be reintroduced.

The building will have various heights, ranging from five to 18 storeys.

Planning officials are in favour of the development, stating in their report: “If implemented, the proposal will deliver economic development benefits within the city centre through investment in the built fabric, increased population, and the creation of employment opportunities.

“This would also assist in delivering alternative uses in the Sauchiehall Street area –- being a strategic priority to ensure the vitality of the city centre.

“The proposed use is appropriate to the city centre environment and will encourage footfall and activity within the neighbourhood.”

An assessment of the need for student housing in Glasgow identified that city attracts more than 77,000 students across five institutions.

There is strong growth, with almost 18,000 more full-time students studying in Glasgow compared with five years ago.

In 2022/2023 there were 19,273 purpose-built student accommodation bed spaces available, with the student-to-bed ratio currently 2.3:1.

Planner state: “Based on this student-to-bed ratio, there were 25,752 students in 2021/22 who were unable to access a bed. Based on the modelling within the assessment, the number of students unable to access a bed is expected to increase unless significant investment into new accommodation is delivered.

“The Glasgow purpose-built student accommodation pipeline currently stands at 3,273 beds of which 1,385 (42 per cent) have received full planning consent.

“The largest approved scheme, by iQ Students, is expected to open in 2024/2025 and will add an additional 557 beds to the Glasgow offer.

“The proposed scheme would deliver an additional 633 rooms to the Glasgow student accommodation offer. Given the demand for accommodation, it will not lead to an over-supply, but would rather assist in addressing the crucial shortfall issues within the student accommodation market.”

The same meeting will also consider a proposal for a 10-storey student block of around 270 rooms at a vacant site on Osborne Street at Old Wynd, beside a building featuring a mural of comedian Billy Connolly.

Officials are urging councillors to approve the plan, stating in their report: “It is considered that the proposed building is of such a high quality both in terms of design and materials proposed that it would be considered to satisfy all the criteria for an appropriate conservation area infill development.

“[The site] has for a number of years been utilised as a surface level car park by the occupants of the adjacent Granite House building.

“The redevelopment of this highly accessible urban brownfield site would deliver much-needed high quality purpose-built student accommodation within Glasgow’s city centre while at the same completing the street block formed by Granite House to the west.

They add: “While it is acknowledged that the existing mural on the eastern elevation of the adjacent Granite House building would be lost as a result of this proposed development, it should also be acknowledged that the mural has always considered to be a temporary installation to enliven a blank gable wall.”

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