Edinburgh housing: Student flats make up more than a quarter of approved developments

Several areas had permission granted for more student flats than residential homes.

Student accommodation makes up more than a quarter of all developments given permission in Edinburgh, new figures have revealed.

While the Capital is in the grip of a deepening housing crisis three busy areas in the city have had plans approved for more student accommodation than residential homes, according to a freedom of information request. It emerged days after Edinburgh became the first city council in Scotland to declare a housing emergency. It cited a severe shortage of social rented homes, spiralling private rental costs and record homelessness figures.

Of just over 40,000 total dwellings given planning permission since 2010, more than 14,000 were for purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). In total there are six ‘hot spots’ where permission was given for the most student flats, amid fears some areas are already ‘flooded’ with university accommodation.

City centre, Sighthill, Gorgie as well as Southside and Newington were top among all areas that had planning permission for significantly more PBSA than housing since 2010, sparking claims that the ‘system is broken’. Almost all (61 out of 70) student accommodation developments rubber-stamped were concentrated in just six out of all 17 wards.

The most stark difference was in Southside and Newington, where permission was given for just 703 homes – while more than 2500 student flats were green-lighted. The city centre has seen consent given to build 3014 student beds, while permission was given for only 2257 residential homes.

In Sighthill/Gorgie since 2010, planning permission for 2238 student beds has been granted compared with just 1218 residential homes. Commenting on the figures, local councillor Ross McKenzie said: “The system is broken.”

Other areas with the most student flats granted permission were Leith Walk, Craigentinny, Duddingston and Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart. Five areas had no student accommodation approved, including Morningside, Colinton/Fairmilehead, Drumbrae and Gyle, and Forth.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of student flats versus residential homes in 17 areas of the city.

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