Whole neighbourhoods in the south of the city have become university dormitories.
I live in Withington on a street that’s half students, half residents. Withington definitely feels like it’s changing. Lots of reasons why, but some of them include the fact young professionals who want to buy their first home, can’t afford to buy in Didsbury or Chorlton anymore so they’re leaking into Withington. That’s basically what happened to us and our neighbours. Another reason is the pressure on housing in the city centre means grads on their first wage increasingly can’t afford to live in the City Centre anymore. So they’re moving south and occupying housing in Withington / Didsbury that used to be for students. So they are still HMOs, but not student houses.
Living on a student street has its cons, of course. The houses aren’t looked after by landlords as they would be if it was owner occupiers. Students don’t bother to bring their bins in, and the road can be really messy with bottles or vapes just discarded. So the area feels a bit scruffy.
On the other hand, I live 3 miles from the City Centre, in a vibrant community, with amazing bus links, in a house that probably cost a good £100-150k cheaper than it would if I lived half a mile further down the road.
The biggest problem, really, is noise. You’ll go weeks with everything being fine and then on a random Wednesday you’ll be kept up until 4am by a load of people stood outside a house party. The City Council have a hotline you can ring, and they do come out, and it does get followed up with a visit from the relevant organisations if they deem it so disruptive. I believe students can be ‘kicked out’ of uni if they have more than one big party on a road with neighbours complaining. We’ve found that the houses we’ve had issues with have gone quiet after that process has been followed, so it does work.
Withington is a funny place, and I think a lot of residents here are holding their breaths and waiting to see what happens in the next five years. I think, if nothing changes, most of us will leave. Which is sad. Because Withington is great and has loads of potential to be one of the nicest places to live thanks to its village feel.
As for Fallowfield, I’m not sure it will ever change to the degree others may want it to. Especially with the campus regeneration. I do worry about students of the 2030s. I think the market will get so hot - for the reasons I outlined - that young people working in the city will be competing for the same houses and it will be a very expensive university to attend because of that.
One of the things you didn’t cover is Air BnBs. We’ve seen two HMOs on our street/behind us converted into HMOs since living here. That also puts pressure on the market and there is NO regulation at all to stop this from happening. Any house could become an Air BnB. These houses are actually worse than student houses because you have a weekly churn of new people coming and making noise.
hard to see how this comes down to anything else but greed from UoM management - they don't care about local communities, at the end of the day they only care about getting more and more money.
Look at how they treated the students in lockdown, the students on rent strike, look at how they've treated their own lecturers in the UCU negotiations, taking some of the most aggressive tactics of any university in the country, taking 100% deduction of pay for academics witholding what usually makes about 5% of their workload. It's hard to believe they see these local groups as anything other than an inconvenience.
They pretty openly are pushing to get more and more wealthy international students doing increasingly under-resourced masters with bigger and bigger class sizes, to rake in the £25k international tuition fees and the £1000+pm rent for their mates running the private accommodation. This means that there's absolutely no drive for them to provide affordable accommodation. What would the stakeholders think? the idea of not expanding, of not milking the cash cow ignoring all other non-monetary costs, is utterly alien to them.
I don't like the language of this article. "The crux of the issue is that Greater Manchester is severely lacking in proper student housing...." - what is proper housing for students and how does it differ from other housing? "...and as a result they flood into streets..." - flood is a word that takes the humanity out of students, see migrants "....that were built for regular residents..." - so students are irregular residents? Students do have different needs than let's say families but it has more to do with being young. We want young people in our communities, we want good, affordable housing for everyone, and we want a good mix. It is lovely to live in an energetic city with a relative young population! I say the more the merrier . A middle-aged woman
Interesting that the university doesn't want to socially engineer where students live, when it is self-evidently doing precisely that in South Manchester. On a related note, to walk through Fallowfield on a summer's evening reveals swathes of empty and often neglected houses that might otherwise be family homes. Occupied for only six months of the year for student accommodation Manchester does not have a housing shortage, it's the uses to which they are put where commercial exploitation overrides social need.
There's huge tension between the endless expansion by Manchester’s universities, their need to offer accommodation to the increasing numbers of students they continue to invite to the city, and the impact this has on local communities who have lived here all their lives. This can be seen in Brunswick and Hulme, which is facing similar destruction of their longstanding communities. The city needs more social housing and the council speak about freeing up family homes, but housing is bought up by landlords and rented to 2nd and 3rd year students. They get round any HMO ruling by splitting housing into flats or they rent as AirBnB.
In terms of ASB, it can feel like you’re living in a school playground with no playground monitor to manage behaviour. The universities must take some social responsibility for the impact they have on local communities on the ground. There’s no imagination there. It’s surprising and disappointing to realise that academic organisations have no imagination to engage meaningfully with the communities they have such a powerful impact upon. There’s no genuine social responsibility on the ground it feels, just a drive to expand and expand, but at a terrible cost to Manchester people.
Adding an extra 2,000 students into an already unbalanced community also really doesn't align with MCC’s Age Friendly Manchester Strategy (2023-2028) placing older people’s voices at the centre of its work. In A City for Life 2023-2028 the document notes that there is a Public Sector Equality Duty because Age is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equalities Act. Manchester: A City for Life 2023-2028 specifically considers the inequalities Manchester residents may face in mid to later life which are related to ageing. Our community contains many older people and people with disabilities, whose voices have not been heard in the development of the Owens Park plan. The strategy states, An age friendly approach starts with hearing the voice of people in mid- to later life and using their lived experience to shape what we do.
Well done on the article raising an important issue. Increasing the numbers of students locally is against the democratic wishes of the local residents and although the uni are driven by the bottom line surely the reasons for democracy and local representatives are that business (uni) needs do not have the final say.
I live in fallowfield and I'm looking for positive solutions to the imbalance of the community. The environmental impact of over 50% of a population being students is huge. I'd love to see students continue to be and grow their contribution in addressing the environmental concerns locally. I'm hoping to get a local community garden started in Fallowfield to grow food with students at its heart. We need more positive solutions for the existing students not more landlords, extended HMOS and a bigger campus. The environmental crisis will not be helped with a bigger campus.
I notice that you do not mention Moss Side as an area with many students. However the East side of the ward has very large number of family houses bought up and turned into student lets , against planning regulations . The houses are divided into little box rooms and the rents are exorbitant / way above what families can afford.
And the PBSA blocks are growing in number along Great Western St and Moss Lane East. A few months ago a further development on MLE was approved, known locally as the ‘Moss Lane Beast’ - which involves the loss of existing homes - 23 bedsits and 20 flats, some with children. Active Local residents from Tenants Union at least succeeded in demanding that the Council rehouse those people first, though this exacerbates the waiting lists yet further.
You can see the hidden hand of austerity wherever you look. Quite telling that MCC point to the number of tax exempt HMO’s going down, you suspect the moratorium is about council tax cannibalisation and retaining key development sites for employment creation and market rate housing that do pay council tax and business rates. Similarly, the universities are compensating for frozen tuition fees by piling on the numbers. Bad incentives wherever you look.
Students who come to study in Manchester could remember they are “ guests” and treat the areas they live in with respect. Davenport Avenue in Withington is a disgrace with constant litter and waste on the pavements and in the road. Landlords should do much more to ensure areas and the neighbours are treated with respect. Would students treat their home roads like it??
Late to the party here but, I finally got around to reading this after listening to the podcast, and I have to say - the comments here, and the remarks from a number of residents in Fallowfield, are depressing for anyone who thinks that university education is a good thing that should be open to anyone who wants to go down that route.
This country has essentially failed to meaningfully do Higher Education (HE) policy for some time now - since the Browne review of 2010, and certainly since David Willetts left the job of universities minister, it's seen far more drift than purpose. Essentially all industrialised economies are expanding their HE sectors, or looking to maintain very high levels of access, in order to boost their economies. This drift can be seen in a number of ways; the creation of a new regulator essentially no more than a vehicle for ministerial interference on a range of issues (https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/41379/documents/203593/default/; or the decision to legislate to force universities and student unions to host speakers, and then a frantic scramble when simple questions like "why should they be obliged to host Holocaust deniers" were raised by the media (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/holocaust-denial-universities-michele-donelan-b1846924.html); or the fact that fees have been frozen since 2017, resulting in a cut in sector income, which it has tried to cover by raising the number of international students, which politicians have then criticised in turn (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/backbenchers-push-sunak-go-further-cutting-student-visas). What we are left with is a situation that satisfies no-one, and that leaves normal people - who, frankly, have better things on their mind than this stuff in detail - without any clear points of reference when they are confronted with the expansion of HE in their neighbourhood.
This is the generous interpretation; that a poor public debate has left folks without a clear sense of why HE is good, and why we need more folks to go down that road in order to generate the wealth we need to confront other problems in our society, as well as the negative consequences that come with lots of students living in areas. I am going to be generous, because ideas such as "well, they should just live at home then" - ideas that assume students have homes they can stay in, that moving away from home is bad, that students don't deserve communities of peers beyond at home, that adults should be compelled to delay independence if it inconveniences the local residences - should at least be given a hearing, even if only to demonstrate their fundamental lack of substance. Fallowfield residents seem very clear that they don't want more students, but the conversation stops there - who goes to university, how many, where, and how they are expected to live are things they are depositing in the lap of unknown others. A shrug of the shoulders, really. This is the same attitude we've seen in places like Hulme - why can't these people be somewhere else?
What closes the loop is the council's remarkable failure to adequately engage with HE in the city through the planning process. Rather than deciding to lean into the success of two powerful economic engines, by artificially capping student properties in the city centre, they are ensuring that it becomes a problem for voters, and generates a constituency against it. This is not a malicious act, would be my presumption - but malign neglect, wherein they simply just don't want to have to make a case in an area where, again, we lack substantive political discourse to give them cover.
In all, then, it's just depressing - no-one here seems to much care what happens to students, or universities, so long as they don't have to actually interact with them. The council have allowed the problem to fester without focus. Residents just want it to go away. Students are expected to just lump it.
Fallowfield has been replete with students since time immemorial. When I went university in Birmingham in the 80s no one could stay on campus in their 2nd year so whole districts were similarly flooded with students. What has changed since those times?
Manchester City Council’s restrictions on purpose built student accommodation are nonsense and should be scrapped immediately.