By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
A “groundbreaking” plan to improve accommodation for a growing population of students and better integrate them into Nottingham’s neighbourhoods has been adopted by councillors.
The Student Living Strategy, drawn up by Nottingham City Council, the University of Nottingham, and Nottingham Trent University (NTU), aims to improve the quality, safety, affordability and location of student accommodation in the city.
As part of the plan the two universities have also pledged £1 million to help clamp down on anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods heavily populated by students.
Student numbers have grown to 62,000 in recent years, and the city council says it has 10,000 additional beds in its purpose-built accommodation development pipeline to help meet demand and take the strain off family housing.
The University of Nottingham will also be looking to increase accommodation on campus by around 2,000 extra bed spaces over the next decade.
The strategy outlines three priorities including improving the quality, affordability and location of accommodation, encouraging students to contribute to clean and sustainable communities to make sure there is a mutual benefit for all, as well as maximising graduate retention.
Councillors agreed to adopt the strategy at an Executive Board meeting on September 19, following a period of public consultation earlier this year.
Sajeeda Rose, the council’s corporate director for city development, said the strategy is already being recognised at a national level.
Nottingham has so far avoided similar student housing crises as seen in places such as Durham and Bristol, prompting other cities to look at what they are doing.
“Everyone recognises the value that students from universities bring to the city, but also recognises that they also present challenges from a housing perspective and a communities perspective,” Ms Rose said.
“So what this document tries to do is build on where those strengths are and actually manage where those tensions might be in order to manage that on an ongoing basis.
“I think it demonstrates maturity of that partnership of working together and being honest where those issues and challenges are, and how we come together.”
Both universities have already funded up to 2,000 hours of extra
Community Protection Officer (CPO) patrols to tackle noise and anti-social behaviour in areas with the highest concentration of students.
A joint £1m investment by the universities in 2023/24 will further help pay for more CPOs, extra waste collections as well as a community van, sweeper and litter pickers.
The document states students accounted for just under five per cent of all reported anti-social behaviour incidents between September 2021 and August 2022.
Over this period there were 14,589 incidents of anti-social behaviour reported to the police.
Of these 671 incidents were student-related and largely down to noise disturbances and parties.
Councillors said they were pleased to see money being invested to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Sajid Mohammed (Lab), the portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and safety, added: “From a neighbourhoods perspective I really, really welcome this.
“We’ve worked with the universities for a long time, but this document brings together a commitment, a shared vision, a commitment to deliver to make sure everyone believes Nottingham to be their home where everyone can thrive and be their best.
“The commitment is clearly outlined with the £1m investment from both universities and a better protocol on how our services can work in partnership with the university services.
“I think it is fantastic and it is groundbreaking.”