Accommodation accumulates

Published

Rosannah Jones

Students are set to see a huge increase in the availability of accommodation in the West End in the next year after several new housing projects have been given the green light.

An £18 million development on Kelvinhaugh Street will be open in time for the 2014/15 academic year and will be able to host 230 students.

The former plumber’s merchant has been vacant for several years and will be redeveloped into individual studios as well as shared flats. The development has been named Tramworks and will include an on-site gym, covered in the rent price, and a sky lounge with free tea and coffee. The company behind the development is Fresh Student Living, which already manages a development at Collegelands in Glasgow’s Merchant City as well as 20 other student accommodations across the UK.

Glasgow University already has student halls on Kelvinhaugh Street at lower prices than the new private development. The rent prices of Tramworks will start from £125 per week, £18 more than the price of the University’s own halls.

At the other side of the West End, developers have been given the go-ahead to build 19 townhouses and 79 apartments on the former BBC Scotland HQ. Situated at the end of Queen Margaret Drive (above the River Kelvin and opposite the Botanic Gardens), the site holds a prime location in Glasgow’s West End and has been the subject of curiosity for several months as construction appeared to be taking place around three listed buildings on the site, one of which was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Various companies, such as Stefan King’s G1 group, have previously been granted approval to build on the site but there has been no complete development or occupancy since the BBC moved to its current Pacific Quay location in 2007.

On 15 January, however, Glasgow City Council announced that full planning permission had been given subject to conditions. The conditions concern the protection of the natural landscape which surrounds the properties and the Council stated that existing trees must be kept to ensure the continued biodiversity of the area. The Council also requested that the external materials used on the extension buildings be of natural sandstone to preserve the character of the site.

These measures have, however, done little to satisfy local concerns. There remain a number of objections to the project despite public consultations being held at Hillhead Library in April regarding the proposed development. 37 residents have objected alongside 5 local groups and an online petition (which claims the project “threatens to damage the landscape and appreciation of the listed buildings”) is now in place to encourage councillors to alter the approved plans.

The development on the BBC site is estimated to cost £17.5 million.

The two announcements of further accommodation close to Glasgow University come after news in November 2013 of a £15 million student accommodation development project on the site of the former Comet store on Dumbarton Road.

ALUMNO Developments are behind the Dumbarton Road project and the 174-bed accommodation will be also ready in time for the next academic year.

David Campbell, founder of ALUMNO said at the time: “Student numbers are going up, supply is not really matching the numbers and they [investors] can see there is a potential steady income stream from it [student accommodation] and a strong rental growth.”

Glasgow was recently named as the best UK city for landlords due to the high gross yield achieved by local landlords from student rentals. The relatively low house prices and the average rents mean that Glasgow is the most profitable UK city for buy-to-let properties, according to the study from Zoopla.