Some of you may have noticed a number of signs dotted around Edinburgh building sites saying: 'student accommodation coming soon.' Developments are already underway at Leith Walk, Abbeyhill, Hillside Crescent, Holyrood Road, Fountainbridge and a £30.7m student residential project at Lutton Place was recently approved by The City of Edinburgh Council. These developments can't come soon enough and are good news for students and positive news for Edinburgh.
Currently student accommodation is hot property with demand arguably outweighing supply. Every year we have students queuing up the street to view our properties and secure a flat. Edinburgh University is growing in the world league tables and as it continues to do so, it will attract more students, and be able to afford the best professors and lecturers from around the globe to come and teach here. They all need somewhere to live and it's only right Edinburgh welcomes them with open arms and has enough property available to make new residents feel at home.
Many local residents forget about the benefits of living in a heavily student populated city. Each student, on average, spends at least circa £25,000 per annum (£10,000 university fees, £6,000 rent/house costs, £6,000 living, £3,000 other expenses). Developing an environment which is attractive to these 'customers of Edinburgh' seems like a positive way forward as they directly or indirectly benefit us all.
Some may argue that students are noisy, untidy, or don't pay council tax but the benefits to the city far outweigh the negatives. For example, the 237 residents of the newly proposed Lutton Place development will spend circa £60m+ in the city over the next 10 years on everything from pencils and pizzas, to cars, clothes and courses, thereby contributing significantly to Edinburgh's economy.
According to Edinburgh by Numbers, a report produced by City of Edinburgh Council, 90 per cent of Edinburgh residents have recently said that they feel safe walking around their city. Perhaps this is because every sixth person they walk passed is likely to be a student, some of whom choose to stay in Edinburgh and work once they graduate. Many elderly residents in the city actually enjoy living in and around the student areas because they see the vitality and energy that bright young people bring to an area.
Our city needs our students, as much as our students need this city. We should embrace them and see these student developments as a good aspirational move forward, as long as they are done well and built sensibly, in the right areas. If we invest time and care into our students, they will in turn invest back into the city where they studied, which in turn also benefits local people. It's a win-win.
Featured in Edinburgh Evening News