Study finds student rents worth £40m to Edinburgh economy

Student rents are worth a significant amount to the Capital economy.
Student rents are worth a significant amount to the Capital economy.
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Edinburgh’s economy benefitted from a £40 million boost in 2017 thanks to the surge in purpose-built student accommodation, new research has revealed.

The figures, released by advisory-led commercial property agency GVA, show that the student property market brought in £100m across Scotland last year – with Edinburgh pocketing the second-highest investment.

The Student Housing Review produced for GVA showed that average student rents in the city dipped by 
1.3 per cent on 2016, at £147 per week.

There is currently accommodation totalling 506 beds under construction in the capital.

Glasgow was hot on Edinburgh’s heels with the second biggest increase in purpose-built beds with a 16 per cent rise and £10.75m pumped into its economy.

Aberdeen had the highest rate of the buying and selling of the purpose-built beds to the total value of £51m.

The total value across the UK was £4 billion.

Applications for the bespoke accommodation rose for the fifth year in a row due to the increase in numbers of students choosing to study at Scottish universities.

There were 36,850 non-EU applications, a four per cent growth attributed to the relative weakness of the pound in attracting foreign students to Scotland’s soil.

Universities own the lion’s share of the accomodation with 51.6 per cent of the total, but the private sector is fast closing the gap as it adds more beds.

The new wave of student developments favours en-suites and studios, with the private sector producing many more studio flats.

Keith Aitken, regional senior director for GVA in Scotland, said: “The weakness of sterling and the enduring reputation of our higher education institutions continues to make studying in Scotland attractive to overseas students.

“The value provided by the current exchange rate also means the student housing market appeals to investors at home and abroad.”

In the last three years, a boom in student accommodation has seen it spread across the city, with many new housing blocks popping up in Leith and Fountainbridge.

The new Liberty Village sits near the top of Leith Walk on Middlefield, with capacity for 532 students.

Another block was built on Bothwell Street, just off Easter Road, which opened to its first residents in September 2017. The building replaced three warehouse buildings and offers 238 rooms.

Luxury cluster apartments, which appeal in particular to international students, were built on McDonald Road, with new plans to turn St Margaret’s House in Meadowbank into student housing.

And concern continues to bubble throughout the communities who are affected by the increase in student flats, including plans for 216 student rooms on Dundee Street, which were refused by Edinburgh planning councillors – a decision that was recently overturned by the Scottish Government, angering residents in Fountainbridge and Polwarth.