Posted on 22 Apr 2015 by Marion
The City of Edinburgh Council asks for your views to inform a revision in how the Council manages the housing requirements of the city’s growing number of students.
Responses need to be in by Friday, 24 April.
Here is our response.
Much time and ink has been devoted to ‘sustainable' communities - commercial, social, politically engaged etc. It is very clear from many disciplinary backgrounds that a key ingredient to vigorous local communities is diversity in the social composition of sub-areas within cities, and that place attachment (memory and meaning) are closely related to the physical environment constructed.
So our strong opposition to an undue concentration of student accommodation is that it severely damages the very characteristics that we cherish and seek to develop by other policy means. Student accommodation impinges adversely on existing local retail outlets, influences the viability of local schools by crowding out housing for families, limits amenities for and isolates the elderly in the community affected, and diminishes participation in the civil society of the area since students join student associations, not community ones.
Students need accommodation of course. But this needs to be scattered around the city now that the Universities themselves no longer show any appetite for developing further university-owned halls of residence. This trend is unlikely to be reversed. Since the Universities seek to maximise the revenue stream from their existing Halls, then the tourist season adds further impermanence to the areas where student accommodation is concentrated, and compounds the lack of commitment to associational life, diverse communities and civic engagement in the city. Any notion that students need to be close to their classrooms need not be too seriously entertained - there are good discounts for students through Lothian buses – and in any event with the siting of Heriot Watt, Napier and St Margaret’s there is good cause to spread that housing around to a greater extent.