Surplus student developments threaten to dominate Cardiff’s skyline

Leading Welsh architect Jonathan Adams has spoken out about the danger of Cardiff’s skyline becoming dominated by vacant luxury student accommodation, which might end up being demolished. 

Taking BBC analysis going back to 2014, approximately 7,400 new rooms, most in so-called purpose-built student accommodations (PBSAs), have been approved in the past five years.

There is evidence that several of these development schemes have found it difficult to fill the rooms and subsequently accommodation has been rented out to tourists, contractors and professionals.

Mr Adams, responsible for the Wales Millennium Centre’s design, fears PBSAs will have a limited lifespan. He has expressed concerns that converting them into flats is not straightforward and developers could face expensive costs.

Jonathan Adams said: “In the future, it is hard to envisage a scenario where we would know what to do with them.”

Cardiff Civic Society has voiced concern that the city’s identity could be lost to high-rise buildings and student flats.

Currently, some schemes are under construction, more developers are applying for a change of use and plans have been submitted for more student rooms on City Road, triggering concerns that Cardiff will be left with a surplus of student rooms that cannot be filled.

Cardiff City Council’s policy plan for tall buildings

Cardiff city council has put policies in place for student flats and tall buildings to advise the planning committee and developers. The council maintains that despite a number of applications for new student blocks, the number of beds remained fewer than the student population.

A council spokesperson said: “A planning authority cannot refuse an application because we don’t believe there is a need for the development.

“Whilst Cardiff has seen a number of applications for new PBSA in recent years, the number of bed spaces remains significantly less than the student population of Cardiff.”

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