University of Bedfordshire lobbies council to block new private student accommodation

University of Bedfordshire's Luton campus
University of Bedfordshire's Luton campus

The University of Bedfordshire has urged Luton Borough Council to block the development of new private student accommodation, we can reveal.

In a letter to the council, Graham Blake, UoB’s director of facilities and estates, warned LBC that it has approved new accommodation based on ‘flawed assumptions’ about the numbers of university students in Luton.

He wrote: “The university considers it has more than sufficient rooms for its students who wish to live in halls or similar purposely designated student accommodation.

“There is currently a large and growing surplus (of private student accommodation blocks) following a number of permissions which have been granted since 2010, some of which is currently under construction.”

He added: “Any decisions to grant further student accommodation in Luton is therefore unsustainable and we suggest no further planning consent for this type of accommodation is granted until demand is demonstrated to avoid the risk of the community having such specialist accommodation unoccupied and at risk of deterioration.”

The letter was sent to LBC in opposition to a new five storey student accommodation block on Park Street, which was given planning consent

by the council on December 18.

The 33 bedroom development sits directly opposite UoB’s Luton campus.

Its proposer David Westcott, who owns an estate agents on Park Street, told the Luton News that UoB “simply does not want people to compete with them”.

He said: “At the end of the day we need more student accommodation.

“We have already got a base of customers that goes on year after year and the problem is that there isn’t

enough accommodation to go around.

“I’ve currently got a lot of students in terraced houses in South Luton and when the time is right the idea is to

take them out and move families in.

“My student accommodation is long term, as opposed to people who come in for a quick profit.”

Advising Luton Borough Council to halt private student accommodation, UoB’s Graham Blake said that new properties being built are “expensive to rent and therefore not attractive to many of our students who are highly sensitive to price”.

Mr Westcott rubbished these claims, telling the Luton News that UoB’s own offering is a “rip off”.

He said: “The amount they charge for accommodation and courses is outrageous.

“I had a girl come to us who was paying £708 a month for a room with an en suite and double bed.

“It was £650 per month for a single room– these are the figures we are talking about.”

> What do you think? Email editorial@lutonnews.co.uk