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Staffordshire university student accommodation.


Student Accommodation

Student accommodation in England typically refers to housing specifically designed or adapted to meet the needs of students attending universities, colleges, or other educational institutions. There are several defining characteristics of student accommodation:

  1. Purpose-built: Student accommodation is purpose-built or purpose-adapted for student living. It includes various types of housing, such as dormitories, halls of residence, student apartments, or purpose-built student housing complexes. These accommodations are designed to provide students with a conducive living and learning environment.

  2. Proximity to educational institutions: Student accommodation is usually located in close proximity to universities, colleges, or other educational institutions to ensure convenience for students. This allows easy access to campus facilities, lectures, libraries, and other academic resources.

  3. Facilities and amenities: Student accommodation often provides a range of facilities and amenities that cater to the specific needs of students. These may include furnished bedrooms, communal study areas, common rooms, kitchens, laundry facilities, internet connectivity, and on-site management or support services.

  4. Safety and security: Student accommodation prioritizes the safety and security of its residents. It may include measures such as secure entry systems, CCTV surveillance, on-site staff or security personnel, and fire safety precautions to ensure a secure living environment.

  5. Social and communal spaces: Recognizing the importance of community and social interaction, student accommodation often includes shared spaces for socializing, such as common rooms, recreation areas, or communal kitchens. These areas provide opportunities for students to interact, form friendships, and engage in extracurricular activities.

  6. Tenancy arrangements: Student accommodation typically offers flexible tenancy arrangements that align with the academic calendar. It may provide tenancy agreements on a termly or academic-year basis, allowing students to occupy the accommodation during their study period.


It's important to note that regulations and standards for student accommodation can vary depending on local authorities and educational institutions. Additionally, private student accommodation providers may have their own specific criteria and features. Students seeking accommodation should consult their educational institution's accommodation services or reputable student accommodation providers for more specific details and requirements.

What are the challenegs facing student accommodation?

Student accommodation in England faces several challenges. Here are some common challenges:

  1. Supply and Demand Imbalance: The demand for student accommodation often exceeds the available supply, particularly in popular university cities. This leads to high competition for limited spaces, resulting in increased rental costs and limited options for students.

  2. Affordability: The cost of student accommodation is a significant concern for many students. Accommodation costs, including rent and utility bills, can be high, especially in major cities. Affordability issues can lead to financial strain for students and impact their overall well-being and academic performance.

  3. Quality and Standards: Ensuring quality standards in student accommodation can be a challenge. Some properties may not meet adequate standards of safety, maintenance, or cleanliness. There have been cases of substandard accommodation conditions, inadequate security, or lack of necessary facilities.

  4. Housing Shortages: In certain areas, there is a shortage of suitable student accommodation, leading to overcrowding and increased pressure on the local housing market. This can result in students resorting to unsuitable or substandard housing options, affecting their living conditions and overall experience.

  5. International Student Support: International students often face specific challenges when it comes to finding suitable accommodation. They may require additional support and guidance due to unfamiliarity with local rental processes, language barriers, or limited knowledge about the local housing market.

  6. Mental Health and Well-being: The impact of accommodation on students' mental health and well-being is increasingly recognized. Isolation, social pressures, and inadequate support structures within student accommodation can contribute to mental health issues. The design and management of accommodation should prioritize creating a supportive and inclusive living environment.

  7. Sustainability and Environmental Impact: There is a growing need for more sustainable and eco-friendly student accommodation. Energy-efficient buildings, waste management systems, and environmentally conscious practices are essential to minimize the environmental impact of student housing.


Efforts are being made by universities, colleges, and local authorities to address these challenges. They involve initiatives such as increasing the supply of purpose-built student accommodation, regulating the standards of private student housing, providing financial assistance or subsidies, and enhancing support services for students seeking accommodation.

What are the Planning Policies controlling student accommodation?

In England, planning policies governing student accommodation are primarily set at the local level by individual local planning authorities. These policies may vary from one area to another, but there are some general considerations and guidelines that often apply. Here are some common planning policies that control student accommodation:

  1. Design and Quality: Planning policies aim to ensure that student accommodation developments meet certain design and quality standards. This includes considerations such as the size and layout of rooms, communal areas, accessibility, amenities, and the overall appearance of the development.

  2. Housing Mix and Density: Policies may regulate the mix of accommodation types within a development, such as en-suite rooms, shared flats, or self-contained studios, to cater to different student needs. They may also set limits on the overall density of student accommodation in a particular area to avoid an overconcentration of student housing.

  3. Locational Criteria: Planning policies often consider the location of student accommodation in relation to educational institutions. They may encourage developments close to universities or colleges, or within walking or cycling distance of campuses, to minimize the need for extensive travel and transportation.

  4. Impact on Local Communities: Policies address the impact of student accommodation on local communities. They may assess factors such as noise, disturbance, parking provisions, waste management, and the overall integration of the development within the surrounding area.

  5. Affordable Housing Contributions: Some local authorities may require developers of student accommodation to contribute towards affordable housing provision in the area. This helps to balance the demand for student housing with the need for affordable housing for other segments of the population.

  6. Conservation Areas and Heritage: In areas with historic or conservation significance, planning policies may have specific requirements to ensure that the design and development of student accommodation respect and preserve the heritage and character of the surrounding area.

  7. Sustainability and Energy Efficiency: Policies often promote sustainability and energy efficiency in student accommodation. This may involve requirements for energy-efficient design, use of renewable energy sources, water conservation measures, and sustainable transport provisions.


Policies can vary between local planning authorities, and developers or individuals planning to establish student accommodation should consult the specific policies of the relevant local authority. These policies can typically be found in the Local Development Plan, Supplementary Planning Documents, or the planning section of the local authority's website.

What are the benefits of owning a student property?

Owning a student property can offer several benefits. Here are some potential advantages:

  1. Steady Rental Income: Student properties often provide a reliable source of rental income. Students typically rent for fixed terms, such as academic years, which can help ensure consistent occupancy and cash flow. The demand for student accommodation is often stable, especially in areas with universities or colleges, making it an attractive investment option.

  2. Higher Rental Yields: Student properties can yield higher rental returns compared to traditional residential properties. Multiple students may occupy a single property, allowing landlords to generate higher rental income per square foot. This can potentially result in more favorable rental yields on investment.

  3. Long-Term Investment Potential: Universities and colleges tend to have a consistent demand for student accommodation, making it a long-term investment opportunity. As long as there is a student population, the need for housing remains, reducing the risk of a significant drop in demand.

  4. Potential for Capital Appreciation: Depending on the location, student properties can appreciate in value over time. Areas with growing student populations, improving infrastructure, or expanding universities may experience increased property values, allowing for potential capital appreciation.

  5. Furnished Property: Student properties are often rented out fully or partially furnished, which can be convenient for both landlords and tenants. Furnished properties generally command higher rental rates and attract students looking for ready-to-move-in accommodation.

  6. Lower Void Periods: Due to the consistent demand for student accommodation, void periods (periods when the property is unoccupied) can be minimized. This helps landlords maintain a stable rental income stream throughout the year.

  7. Potential Tax Benefits: Landlords may be eligible for various tax benefits associated with owning and operating student properties. These can include deductions for expenses related to maintenance, repairs, furnishings, and mortgage interest. It is advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax implications and benefits in your jurisdiction.

  8. Diverse Tenant Pool: Student properties offer the opportunity to interact with a diverse range of tenants from various backgrounds and cultures. This can provide landlords with a unique and rewarding experience.


It's important to consider that owning a student property also comes with its challenges and considerations. These can include managing tenant turnover, dealing with potential property damage, complying with regulations specific to student accommodation, and staying updated with market trends and demand. Conducting thorough research, understanding local regulations, and seeking professional advice are crucial steps when considering investing in student properties.

How can En-Plan assist with your student accommodation project?

En-Plan can play a valuable role in assisting with a student accommodation project. Here are some ways we can provide support:

  1. Site Assessment and Feasibility: We can assess the suitability of a site for a student accommodation project. They can evaluate factors such as local planning policies, zoning, land use designations, and any site-specific constraints or opportunities. We can provide an initial feasibility analysis to determine the viability of the project.

  2. Planning Applications and Permits: We can help navigate the planning application process. They can prepare and submit planning applications on behalf of the client, ensuring that all necessary documentation, reports, and assessments are provided. We can also engage in discussions with local planning authorities, addressing any concerns or issues that may arise during the application process.

  3. Compliance with Planning Policies and Regulations: We are knowledgeable about local planning policies, regulations, and guidelines. We can ensure that the student accommodation project aligns with the relevant policies and regulations, addressing factors such as building design, height restrictions, parking provisions, and environmental considerations.

  4. Community Engagement and Consultation: We can assist with community engagement and consultation processes. They can organize public consultations to involve local residents, community groups, and other stakeholders in the planning process. This helps to address concerns, gather feedback, and promote transparency and inclusivity.

  5. Negotiations and Advocacy: We can act as an advocate for the client, engaging in negotiations with planning authorities, community representatives, and other stakeholders. We can present the client's case, address objections or concerns, and work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions.

  6. Environmental Impact Assessments: If required, we can coordinate and manage environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for the student accommodation project. We can work with environmental consultants to evaluate potential environmental impacts and develop strategies to mitigate or minimize these impacts.

  7. Planning Policy Research and Analysis: We stay updated on evolving planning policies and regulations. They can conduct research and analysis specific to student accommodation developments, identifying any emerging trends, policy changes, or best practices relevant to the project. This ensures that the project is aligned with current planning considerations.

  8. Expertise and Guidance: We bring expertise and experience in navigating the complex planning process. They can provide guidance and advice throughout the various stages of the project, helping to ensure compliance, manage risks, and optimize the chances of a successful outcome.


Engaging En-Plan early in the process can provide valuable insights and support for a student accommodation project.


Case Study: 66 Cauldon Road, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2ED.

Following the initial discussion wit the applicant a two-storey side extension was agreed on whereby the size of the house would be doubled and two new bedrooms added at first floor to accommodate a growing family.

The application he application has been assessed against relevant policies of the local plan and other material considerations including those raised by consultees and third parties. The proposal is for a single storey rear extension to a terraced property. Amendments were sought as the initial proposed rear extension was far too large and it would not have been approved due to the scale and lack of outlook for the occupants. The revised plans have significantly reduced the size of the extension. It would project 2.7m off the original rear wall. When assessing the fall back position, a single storey extension for a terrace property can extend off the original rear wall by 3m, have an eaves height of 3m and an overall maximum height as 4m.  As this proposed rear extension complies with the householder permitted development rights with regards to the size, this rear extension is deemedacceptable. Permission is required for this extension as the proposed materials are cladding and render. As this application is for a rear extension and it cannot be seen from the streetscene, this is also deemed acceptable. There have been no concerns raised from the neighbours notified and as such, the proposal is considered to be acceptable in terms of design, amenity and highway safety and would deliver sustainable development in accordance with the NPPF. Given the above, the application is recommended for approval subject to the conditions set out  below.

Alterations and extensions to dwellings are most commonly carried out by individual householders. Regulations set out criteria for determining whether alterations and extensions require planning permission or whether they are deemed to be ‘permitted development’.

The application was considered in line with guidance which refers to extensions which will have an influence on the urban design quality and character of the area, that is a potential influence upon the street scene. These are generally side or front extensions. R23 Extensions to dwellings should be well designed and contribute positively to the townscape character. Where the area is identified as having positive historical significance, then key considerations include:
a. Where there is a regular pattern and rhythm to the built form, with a repeated built form on
a consistent building line and with consistent gaps, then any extension on the frontage must not unbalance the rhythm.
b. Where gaps between buildings allow views to a green backdrop that contributes to the established, positive, character of the area, extensions should not close such gaps.
c. Extensions should follow one of two alternative approaches, either to be a seamless extension to the form and scale of the original building or clearly subservient to it.
d. The form and design of the proposed extension must be well considered and complement the
existing building, either by adopting its style or by contrast.

Simple and extremely effective is how we would sum up this extension.

Application Reference: 62232/FUL

Application Received Wed 14 Feb 2018

Application Validated Mon 05 Mar 2018

Address66 Cauldon Road, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2ED

Proposal Single storey rear extension

Status Decided

Decision Grant with Conditions

Decision Issued Date Mon 30 Apr 2018

Appeal Decision Not Available

Application Reference58810/FUL

Application Received Wed 09 Sep 2015

Application Validated Wed 09 Sep 2015

Address66 Cauldon Road, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2ED

Proposal Single storey rear extension

Status Decided

Decision Grant with Conditions

Decision Issued Date Mon 02 Nov 2015

Appeal Decision Not Available

Case Study: 16 & 17 Britannia Street, Coventry.




Following on from the submission of two applications on the two adjoining properties of 16 and 17 Britannia Street Coventry City Council visited the application site which is located in the heart of the student accommodation quarter in Coventry.

The proposal both sought planning permission for a single storey rear extension that will add another bedroom to both of these student lets.  The proposal by virtue of them being adjacent will ensure the cost is kept down as the cost of the party wall can be split between the two owners.

Article 4 Direction Update for Coventry 

On 6 September 2022, the Coventry Coty Council voted to consult on an Article 4 designation to remove the permitted development right to change the use of a C3 property (“dwellinghouse”) to a C4 property (“house in multiple occupation”) within certain wards of the city. If the proposed designation is approved, it should come into effect on 13 September 2023. Any person wishing to convert a residential house into an HMO within the affected wards will first need to make a change of use planning application, even if the HMO will have fewer than seven tenants. Properties that are already in lawful use as HMOs with fewer than seven tenants will not need to make a planning application, though the landlord may wish to consider applying for a Lawful Development Certificate. If the Article 4 designation is implemented, this will have no bearing on existing HMO licences, or on future HMO licences for properties that were HMOs prior to the designation. However, if we determine that a property is operating as an HMO without the benefit of the correct planning permission, we will only issue a one-year licence for that property, and will include a condition requiring that the correct permission is sought. Please note that this is not a guarantee that planning permission will be granted. In addition, where a property is found to be operating without the correct planning permission, the Planning Enforcement team may take legal action against the owner.

Further Information

The Student Accommodation Use Classes Order Predicament

On 25th February 2016 the Use Classes Order (1987) was amended in Wales to introduce a new C4 use class, which has been in place in England since April 2010. Use Class C4 covers the use of a dwelling house by not more than six residents as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)[1]. Prior to the introduction of this use class, landlords could convert a standard dwelling to a HMO of up to six people living together as a single household without the need to apply for planning permission. Now, this conversion will constitute a material change of use of the land from use class C3 (Dwelling House) to C4 (HMO) which Councils will be able to assess against their statutory development plan. Meanwhile, converting back to C3 from C4 does not require planning permission as it is considered permitted development.

As a consequence of this amendment, Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) will possibly have more control over the number and location of HMOs within their area. LPAs would most probably argue that this is a positive given that a high concentration of HMOs can create transient communities as well as contribute to parking and waste problems (45% and 51% of students in Cardiff and Swansea respectively live within the private rented sector.) Other issues, perhaps more important, include valuable family housing being lost from the housing stock and converted into HMOs, making it increasingly difficult for first time buyers to access the housing market. It remains to be seen if Councils will refuse planning permission for HMOs going forward and if this will see more HMOs reverting back to family housing[2].

This brings us on to the subject of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). PBSA has become increasingly popular recently for developers and for students. The benefits for students are clear: often, a better standard of living, on-site facilities as well as increased security and the benefit of not having to deal directly with landlords/agents. PBSA is proving to be a clear attraction for students and its recent proliferation has seen numerous students opting for PBSA in preference to HMOs. This is likely to lead to the traditional inner city homes that have hitherto provided the mainstay of student housing, potentially converting back to family homes, which may be no bad thing.

Understandably, the relatively cheap cost of renting a room within a HMO will still hold some appeal to students outpriced by PBSA which implies that HMOs still have an important part to play in the supply of student accommodation.

However, PBSA is not without its own planning complexities with regards to how schemes are considered by LPAs. Generally, PBSA is classed by LPAs as a Sui Generis use as it does not fall within any specific use class. NLP’s experience is that PBSA is evidently different to conventional residential housing (C3) and is arguably more akin to a hotel (C1) in its operation as it includes management personnel and on site facilities such as laundry, reception and common rooms[3], but the approach of dealing with PBSA applications differs dramatically from one LPA to another.

However, we have also seen instances of LPAs requesting that applications for PBSA specify the use class as C2 (residential institutions), C3 (dwelling houses) or C4 (HMO), depending on the particular circumstances. Some LPAs argue that a PBSA comprising studio flats should be classified as C3 due to the fact that studios include their own kitchen and bathroom. On the other hand, some LPAs argue that PBSA comprising cluster flats of up to 6 people should be classified as C4.

Uncertainty around the specification of a specific use class for PBSA has enormous implications for the sector,  especially if LPAs start requesting affordable housing contributions on PBSA applications that fall within Use Class C (even though the nature of the accommodation is quite clearly different to open market housing). Prominently, this would have an impact upon development viability. For example, Oxford City Council has an adopted policy which states that planning permission will only be granted for new student accommodation that includes 20 or more bedrooms if a financial contribution is secured towards delivering affordable housing elsewhere in Oxford[4]. (With the sum in Oxford amounting to £140 per sq m, a notional PBSA scheme of 5,000 sqm would need to pay £700,000 in financial contributions).

Given the relatively recent boom in PBSA development, the correct approach with regards to the use class of PBSA is yet to be tested in a court of law and therefore the varying approaches of LPAs looks set to continue into the future. However, what is clear in the current market is that PBSA is a form of development that is becoming increasingly popular for students and developers alike and there are implications of this, not only on supply of student accommodation but also on the fabric of some areas with traditionally high concentrations of students. This could lead to a perceptible number reverting to family homes – without the need for planning permission, of course!

Building regulations 

Building regulations apply to a wide range of works relating to converting a building to HMO use.

These include the installing of new kitchen and bathroom facilities, new doors and windows and fire and sound insulation between units of accommodation, upgrading/renewing electrical wiring and upgrading/renewing certain heating systems.


When arranging works check that your contractor is operating under an approved industry scheme or apply for the correct approval under the Building Regulations. You can access further information and advice on Building Control. Buildings that have been converted into self-contained flats are also HMOs if they were not converted in accordance with building regulations (1991 or later) and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied. The full legal definition is found in the Housing Act 2004 and there is a House of Commons Library publication (SN/SP/708), which you can search for on the House of Commons site which provides detailed information on this subject.

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