Plans lodged for 300 town centre student flats

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An ambitious proposal to build almost 300 student apartments in Stirling town centre has been unveiled.

Student property specialists Scape Homes aim to offer “high quality accommodation at great value for money” at the Orchard House site, next to Union Street.

Plans outline the development of 205 cluster apartments and 91 studio apartments, with an on-site gym, games room, cinema and study spaces.

The operator behind the project is also considering letting all Stirling student card holders use some of the facilities free of charge.

Lead architect Graeme Feechan said that there has been “successful dialogue” with the university, regarding the build.

“It’s a product that is not readily available in Stirling and if you look at the other university towns, it does exist.

“If the university doesn’t have this back up to their core activities, it lessens their offer to the populous.

“One could be delighted to image that the private sector is going to deliver this on their doorstep,” Feechan said.

The build would be located within walking distance from campus. Credit: Montagu Evans

Across the UK, the increase for purpose build student accommodation (PBSA) has risen dramatically, with 30% of first years choosing to live in these modern facilities, jumping from 22% five years ago, according to figures from Knight Frank.

Planning Partner Craig Wallace, from charted surveyors Montagu Evans, said that the “massive pressure” that universities have on their finances allows the private sector to meet students’ needs and fulfil demand for accommodation.

The Orchard House proposal, which would open by 2021 at the earliest, is just one of five potential student builds in Stirling. A flat build behind the train station has been brought to planning, and the public toilets at Dumbarton Rd., next to City Walls, are also set to be transformed into PBSA.

Wallace said: “These are all coming through in response to the opportunity for growth in the university and the fact that the university isn’t necessarily investing in their own accommodation, and are quite happy to admit that as they are spending their money on new sports facilities and student hub.

Students will also be beginning this academic year from the recently opened Riverside Quay development, which was criticised for by student housing activists for its “completely unaffordable” prices.

This development consists of mainly cluster apartments, with shared kitchen, dining and lounge spaces, so costs should be slightly lower than an all-in-one studio.

A planning application was previously lodged for the area which would have included two fast food drive throughs and a residential care home.

The new plans retain the care home but not the commercial units, which Councillor Jim Thomson has welcomed:

“The layout is much better suited to the area, compared to the drive throughs previously given permission.”

But he cast doubt that the private build would be cost friendly to students. Thomson said: “I’m not convinced the student accommodation is necessarily affordable but there is a known shortage of available student accommodation.”

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