Student Accommodation


Investment into purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) remains attractive especially in cities with a large student population, including many from overseas, and leading education institutions. The private sector is leading the way in delivering new bedspaces but demand continues to outstrip supply. Finding appropriate sites and navigating the planning process are challenges for developers which DPP can help to overcome. 

 Purpose-built accommodation helps institutions to meet demand and compete internationally. The increased footfall that comes with a successful university brings money, life and vibrancy to town and city centres. PBSAs enable traditional housing to revert to families and other occupiers. They also usually provide excellent communal facilities for students to assist with their integration into university life. Accommodation plays a key role in how students experience their chosen place of study and whether they decide to stay in that location after-graduating. Councils and educational institutions recognise the intrinsic link between good quality student accommodation which attracts students and then retention of their knowledge and skills to drive economic growth. It’s important these benefits are presented clearly to elected council members and officers. 

 It’s also important that any concerns about proposed PBSA schemes are addressed through consultation and the application submission documents. Concerns can be raised about managing student behaviour and the unique challenges associated with moving in and out, combined with the volume of applications being considered by a council. 

 DPP’s understanding of these inter-related and often complex planning considerations enables us to assist you in delivery of projects and to be your trusted advisor. We work closely with our clients, local authorities and communities to ensure that everyone understands the benefits of these proposals while addressing any concerns effectively. 


DPP has secured permission for over 15,000? new student bed spaces across the UK over the last 5 years.  

Many development plans now have a specific policy relating to PBSA. Policy requirements need to be fully understood prior to applying. For example, some Councils have a test of need for student housing. Other Councils are introducing detailed design guidance for student housing. Sometimes the development plan will stay silent on student housing. Proposals often ‘blur’ the lines for key considerations such as size standards, parking and financial contributions. Local knowledge of how officers and members view PBSA schemes becomes increasingly important. Early engagement with communities, local authorities and stakeholders has been key to our success.  

We have acted for developers, Universities as well as operators across England and Wales. Our experience has enabled us to overcome refusals at appeal, reduce financial contributions, as well as delivering consents at sites many thought impossible. 

Arena Point, Leeds

Client Name: Olympian Homes

DPP prepared, submitted and managed a planning application on behalf of Olympian Homes for the demolition of the existing Arena Point office building and the redevelopment of the site for a purpose-built 45-storey, 705-bed student accommodation tower together with public realm improvements at Arena Point in Leeds. 

Arena Point is a proposed 45-storey purpose-built student accommodation scheme being brought forward by Olympian Homes on Merrion Way in Leeds City Centre.  

The scheme will deliver 705 beds across a mix of studio apartments and shared cluster flats alongside communal amenity space and public realm improvements to Merrion Way. Located close to the First Direct Arena, the development will replace an existing office block and will sit between existing tall buildings on Merrion Way including 36-storey Altus House, another Olympian Homes student accommodation scheme currently under construction. Once completed Arena Point will surpass Altus House as Leeds’ tallest building. 

DPP acted as planning consultant on the project and led extensive pre-application discussions with Leeds City Council. Through careful negotiations with officers, as well as presentations and discussions with Member of Leeds’ Plans Panel (Planning Committee), DPP were able to agree a building design with the Council at pre-application stage, minimising the risk in progressing the project to full application stage.  

DPP went on to prepare, submit and project manage the planning application for the development, coordinating the project team in addressing key consideration relating to highways impact; amenity, visual impact and daylight/sunlight implications.  

As a result of the extensive pre-application discussions, comprehensive submission package and responses to consultee queries, there were no objection to the planning application from any of the technical consultees and permission was secured.  

Mount Oswald, Durham  

Client Name: Durham University

On behalf of Durham University, DPP were appointed to provide planning advice throughout a competitive procurement process for two new University colleges with up to 500 beds each, supported by College Hubs and one university hub, providing formal dining, social, learning and central amenity functions as well as a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA). 

A pre-application submission was made to the LPA and led by DPP, which included three potential schemes, put forward by three different bidders. 

DPP also assisted in coordinating the public and stakeholder consultation process and were responsible for auditing the supporting documents, prior to submission and advising the University during the application process through to its successful determination. 

Vita student, Cardiff

Client Name: Cardiff County Council

DPP was initially appointed by the landowner to explore the redevelopment of the site. This identified the opportunity to promote a tall building at the site which led to its purchase by Vita Group, who retained DPP.

Being located directly adjacent to a Listed building and Cardiff Civic Centre, the site was included in an area deemed unsuitable for tall buildings. At 19 storeys, the 401-bed scheme was subject to significant scrutiny and opposition and required extensive dialogue with Officers, Councillors and consultees, all of which was led by DPP. The result is the provision of the highest quality student accommodation in Wales housed in a landmark building.

Planning consent was secured despite the site it being deemed the most sensitive in Cardiff. The scheme was the first, and to date, the only tall building approved in the ‘area of high sensitivity’ making it a landmark consent.

We instructed DPP because we needed a team who were experienced in working on major projects in the city of Cardiff, with strong connections with the Local Planning Authority and an understanding of the local “politics”. That is exactly the experience that we have had. They have led a complex series of negotiations with the Council, maintaining a positive relationship throughout. They have provided constructive input to the project team’s design development process, and timely advice to us as the client.

Michelle Steele – Strategic Planning Director, Vita Group

Beeston, Nottingham

Client Name: Cassidy Group

Architect: Maber

LPA: Broxtowe Borough Council

DPP were appointed by Cassidy group to progress a planning application for a 419 studio apartment scheme varying in height up to 8-storeys, occupying a central site in Beeston.

Despite securing a recommendation for approval from officers, Members refused the application on largely political grounds. Accordingly, DPP were appointed to progress with an appeal against the decision.

The development, which included ground floor open plan commercial space, would see the completion of the allocated site following the opening of the Arc Cinema, opposite. With neighbouring Nottingham City Council declaring that there was a need for more high-quality student accommodation in and around Nottingham, DPP argued that development would make a significant contribution to this being, the site being within walking distance of Nottingham University’s main campus.

In securing the positive appeal decision, DPP successfully argued that the development would not result in unacceptable impacts on parking, that it would provide appropriate living conditions, and that it would have a positive effect on the town centre. In addition, DPP successfully argued that the actions of the council in seeking to defend the reasons for refusal were unreasonable and the Inspector awarded full costs to the appellant.


Client Name: Rueben & Morgan

DPP were appointed by the client to advise prior to acquisition of the site, developing a planning strategy to secure planning approval for a 26-storey purpose built student accommodation scheme.

Being located outside of the defined city centre or designated ‘ridge line’, the site was not favoured for a ‘tall building’. Also submitted at a time when the Council were questioning the need for further purpose-built student accommodation, DPP had to overcome an initial resistance to the form of development proposed, doing this through a student need assessment which examined the pipeline of development and a review of unimplemented planning approvals.
DPP co-ordinated the complex planning application for this site, preparing a Tall Buildings Report as well as a Sustainable Construction Report.

Approval was secured within 12 weeks and in so doing, DPP overcame the initial concerns of the council about scale, mass, design and the principle of student accommodation at the site.

The greatest achievement was perhaps that this was secured despite it being located directly opposite the window of the Director of Planning at the Council!

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you