Student ghettos bad for city

March 7, 2003

Councillors are seeking legal powers to break up student ghettos in Nottingham after a study found they are causing social and economic problems, writes Phil Baty.

A six-month study commissioned by the city council has found that areas with a high concentration of student digs are threatening the viability of entire communities.

The study found that student enclaves are driving up house prices, forcing families into the suburbs, putting schools, post offices and local shops at risk of closure and even pricing out inner city employers as developers buy up warehouses and factories.

The council is seeking a change in the law to extend the definition of Himos - homes in multiple occupancy - to restrict the number and growth of private houses rented to students.

Currently only bedsit-style houses with individual rooms that have their own locks, sinks and cooking facilities are classified as Himos. They require planning permission and are subject to stringent health and safety rules. Houses let by private landlords to groups of students do not fall under the rules.

Councillor John Taylor, chair of the local area committee where the study began, said: "We have student populations of about 40 per cent in half a dozen areas of the city. In some streets it's as high as 90 per cent. It is creating artificial and damaging economies. If we can change the law, we can disperse the students by setting limits on the number of Himos in each area."

The combined student population of Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent has doubled to 35,000 in ten years. But there are only 12,000 university-managed beds for some 26,000 students living in the city.

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