Alumno is proposing to deliver 170 student bedspaces, with 24 hour management by a specialist operator, along with an enhanced and better-located Post Office on the ground floor with improved public realm in front of the post office and on the corner of Dogpool Lane and Pershore Road.
Proposals include the redevelopment of retail space on the ground floor, moving the existing Post Office to a more prominent location next to the pedestrian crossing and bus stop on Pershore Road, with improved public realm in front of the post office.
Whilst construction is underway, Alumno will rent local retail accommodation so that the Post Office and community do not suffer any unnecessary gaps in service.
Birmingham City Council forecasts there is a shortage of at least 8,000 student bedspaces city-wide. The University of Birmingham has also acknowledged a shortage and expressed a preference for Purpose Built Student Accommodation over the use of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which reduce options for family homes in the Selly Oak area.
Of the approximately 50 terraced properties neighbouring the north side of site, on the west of Pershore Road, more than half are either registered as approved HMOs or pending approval.
Alumno has also commissioned a high-level needs assessment which identifies that there are 26,028 full-time students at the University of Birmingham (UoB) who are in need of accommodation and (at the start of the 2019 / 2020 academic year) only 11,240 purpose-built bed spaces (university managed, private sector-UoB partnership and other private sector) are available and in use across the catchment area.
This represents a level of provision of 43.2% of full-time students in need of accommodation. There is a gap of almost 15,000 bed spaces between the total number of UoB full-time students in need of accommodation and the total provision of purpose-built bed spaces available to them.
This assessment will be expanded and will form part of a ‘Student Needs Assessment’ which will support the planning application.
If Alumno’s planning application is successful and Alumno commences work on site, it will look to complete the work as it wouldn’t be in the company’s interest to keep the site as an undeveloped asset.
Alumno is confident that it is providing a superior product – with private bathrooms, a gym, cinema room, secure bike storage, study spaces and 24 hours security – compared to the student accommodation which is already available. As a superior product, it will be able to attract both existing and new demand and will not rely on an increase in demand to fill it. However, as noted in the answers above, and through Alumno’s own analysis, there is evidence of growing demand to be met for student bedspaces.
The accommodation will be managed 24/7 by a specialist student operator who will be chosen in 2021/22. This continual presence will discourage anti-social behaviour and ensure local residents and businesses always have a point of contact should there be any problems.
Management procedures surrounding noise breaches and anti-social behaviour include:
According to their tenancy agreements, no students, with the exception of those with disabilities, will be allowed to bring vehicles to the site or park locally. This includes a restriction to preclude them from parking on local streets or outside neighbouring residences.
As per the emerging Birmingham Transport Plan, students will be encouraged to use active travel and more sustainable means of transport, such as cycling, walking and local buses. Information will be available in reception detailing key routes to the city centre, train station, bus stops and local cycle routes. Secure cycle storage will also be offered onsite. The building will be monitored 24/7 to ensure students adhere to the rules of their agreements. Should an issue such as this arise, the tenant would be in violation of their agreement. As an experienced student developer, Alumno has not experienced any such issues on existing sites to date.
Further details will be included in the Transport Statement that will be submitted as part of the planning application.
The building will be managed by a professional student accommodation management company who will have a presence on site 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Behaviour, and compliance with tenancy agreements, will be managed by a Building Manager, with the opportunity to escalate to an Area Manager if necessary.
Alumno always looks to create engaging and inspirational environments through each of their developments to complement and enhance their surroundings. Every project tells its own story through curated art and design. For example, The Union in Leamington Spa incorporates a series of pieces that celebrate the life and work of renowned local artist Sir Terry Frot, RA.
In this instance Alumno wants to work with the local community to design an improved public space which pays tribute to the industrial and cultural heritage of the local area. We want it to be a space that community members can enjoy and interact with. We are looking for community input as to what might suit the area best and pay tribute to the area’s history.
An ecology appraisal is currently underway and a report will be submitted as part of the planning application detailing how the project will achieve a net biodiversity gain. The scheme is also pursuing BREEAM excellence (method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings.).
A planning application is being prepared and due to be submitted in autumn 2020.
If the planning application is successful, construction is expected to start in late 2020/early 2021 and should take 18 months to complete, in time for occupation ahead of the 2022/23 academic year.