Headingley risks "dereliction"

Thousands of homes remain empty this year as students desert their traditional heartlands and are choosing to move into the City, a report has found.

The report, produced by Unipol and the Re’new charity, shows a sharp decline of 5,991 fewer students living in shared houses between 2006 and 2012, with a particular decrease in areas such as central Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse. At the same time, the number of students living in city centre apartments has risen from 494 to 4,791 since 2007, showing a “significant migration” overall from traditional student areas.

Asked whether he was pleased that students were beginning to move away from Headingley and Hyde Park, local Labour Cllr Neil Walshaw said told us that students were great for the area but that a more balanced population was good for all residents:

“Whilst students are very much welcome here in Headingley, empty student homes give us an opportunity to offer more affordable housing to the local community which we desperately need.”

This report follows Council legislation passed earlier this year to limit multiple occupancy licenses in certain areas, aimed to address concerns that students were taking over certain parts of the City.

LUU’s elected Community Officer Ben Fisher said “the report shows that local debates on HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) and student housing have missed the real issues. Restrictions on shared housing were implemented under assumptions that this report suggests to be false, and I hope that we’ll now see a shift in the discussions taking place”.

Phoebe Norton, a fourth year student who opted for a flat in Leeds city centre this year told the Leeds Student: “I found a better deal with the flat I’m in this year; it’s much safer than my previous house in Hyde Park, which got broken into, and for a similar rent the standard of the place is a lot higher”.

Unipol are predicting over 5000 empty bed spaces for this year’s house hunting season, partly due to an estimated 2,500 fewer students in Leeds this year following the national rise in tuition fees.

Julia Dixon

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