Portsmouth is changing - after 20 years in which the University campus has consolidated, from Foster Hall and QEQM Hall in Milton and 60"s architecture like Mercantile House to the new Eldon Building, the Dental Academy and the New Theatre Royal studios. The campus area south of the Guildhall is very much changed. The University has grown from a dated Polytechnic with a mishmash of acquired buildings spread across the city into a large and popular modern University with facilities to match.
We are now seeing a similar change in the way students are housed. For too long the 3,000 halls places available for the 4-5,000 new students each year has been a negative for the University even though local landlords have been happy to take up the strain at the expense of other types of tenant in Southsea.
Next September, the new student halls in Greetham Street will open, operated by Unite. With over 800 rooms - all en suite, fully inclusive with double beds, Wi-Fi, kitchen and study facilities for single students and those who want to live in groups of 2, 3 or 4 it will make Portsmouth much more appealing to those completing their A-levels and planning their next step. However, it is not cheap - with rooms starting at £151 per week based on 51 week contracts, the student debt burden for the lucky applicants will clock up a by a minimum of £7,650 for first year accommodation.
Additionally, the long disused Zurich House complex is well on the way to completion as a new 1,000 room student hall - so for the 1st time, Portsmouth will be in a position to boast hall rooms availability for ALL first year students which should make growing the size of the new intake easier in the years ahead.
And it does not end there - this month a planning application was submitted for a 23 storey Halls of residence with an additional single storey basement for students comprising 520 study/bedrooms including 450sqm of communal facilities, cycle store, bin store, landscaping and a 125sqm ground level shop fronting Station Street at Number One, 8 Surrey Street. This building by Crown Student Living will be on the site of the equally tall hotel which was approved but not built.
We are also aware of another site near the Guildhall which could be sold for development as a new student hall which could easily be the largest of any of these developments if it comes to fruition.
All of this is great for the city - new development of any form helps to regenerate an area, just look at Isambard Brunel Road now and remember how it has been since the 70"s, more and better accommodation will allow the University to continue to grow whilst freeing up houses for families and others in those areas where student overflow has been an issue - Fratton, Landport and parts of East Southsea for example.
But what about us poor landlords - some will not be able to afford to let to anyone other than students, so will have to sell up. Others will make the transition to other types of tenant - though anyone who thinks these changes will start to solve the problems of the single, the vulnerable or the homeless just does not understand the economics of the letting business. And quite a few will continue to let to students.
For those who have properties in the right (near campus) locations who are willing to upgrade facilities to match those which students have been used to in halls, the pickings promise to be good - for students used to 51 week contracts and rents of £150+ a week, you will soon find that those landlords who are left in this sector are able to recoup the costs of upgrading their properties by contracting and charging similar to the student halls providers. And with 20,000+ students and 3,000 halls rooms which could grow to 6,000 in the next 2 years, that still leaves a lot of business for the local landlord community.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.