Student village to ‘help free homes’

Gateway: The Bulk Road site in Lancaster has become scruffy

Gateway: The Bulk Road site in Lancaster has become scruffy

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TWO major new student housing developments have been given the go-ahead at key sites in Lancaster.

St Leonard’s House in St Leonard’s Gate and a derelict site in Bulk Road will together provide another 800 student bedrooms in the city.

Lancaster University estimates that 3,000 to 4,000 more student beds will be needed over the coming years, councillors were told at a meeting this week.

Alongside Lancaster Council’s Local Plan for up to 13,000 new homes, and major new housing developments already taking shape in the district, it is a time of change in the wider city area.

This summer, work is due to start on a 630-bed student village on a derelict strip of land at one of the key gateways to the city.

Described as an “embarassment” to Lancaster, the “land sandwiched between Bulk Road and Back Caton Road will become one of the biggest developments the city centre has seen for some time.

Its 37m high 11 storey tower will be visible across the city, overshadowing residents living in Bulk Road and Gladstone Terrace. Less than a mile away, the former Gillows building in North Road will be converted into student accommodation by developers Cityblock - the company’s fifth student site in Lancaster.

The frame for its “Cityblock4” development at the former Squires Pool Hall in Penny Street, demolished last year, is also currently taking shape.

Coun Janice Hanson, cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, said after the meeting: “Over recent years student numbers at both Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria have shown a steady increase.

“Combined with the introduction of buy-to-let mortgages in the early 2000s, this has had the impact of housing supply being restricted due to traditional family housing being bought up by private landlords and converted to student lets.

“We need to rebalance the housing market and, over the longer term, dedicated student accommodation will help to ease demand for the traditional shared house, increasing the supply of much-needed low cost family housing, particularly in south Lancaster.”

She added there would be benefits for the wider city economy, including shops and businesses.