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Problem of Student Multi Occupation Housing Discussed at Town & Gown Meeting

Published on: 7 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 9 Apr, 2012

The impact of multi-occupancy households, many occupied by students, was one of the main items raised by residence association representatives at a regular ‘Town and Gown’ meeting chaired by Anne Milton MP this week.

Wayne McShane, the representative from Westborough raised the issue. He claimed that the multi-occupancy rate was in Westborough was as high as 40%, and said that students in such households could cause problems by allowing rubbish and recycling to build up, not maintaining gardens well and creating noise disturbances at night. However, it was recognised that ‘we have all been young once’ and the residents association had developed ‘welcome packs’ for new student residents which were delivered during personal introductory visits to encourage mutual consideration. During the visits advice could be given on refuse collection days, etc.

Greg Melley, Director of Corporate Services responded by saying that the University was “acutely aware of the problem”. They were building extra accommodation as quickly as possible and managing the impact of the student accommodation issue on the town. Currently  he said, there were around 15,000 students at the university but accommodation for only 5,300.

Other attendees agreed that the amount of multi occupancy households was a growing concern and Anne Milton pointed out that student numbers were planned to increase at both the University and the College of Law.

Discussions also covered:

Guildford’s planning and development.

The Vice Chancellor, Sir Christopher Snowden, said that the University tried to take a longer term view of planning and had regular consultation with the council. He thought that it had been a “huge mistake” that the council had not applied for city status as part of the Queen’s Jubilee Year. The new planning guidance that was being introduced by the government could allow Guildford to become a ‘beacon town’.
In response to a complaint on the time it took to get things done, especially in Guildford, Ann Milton commented that when it came to planning there was never a single view on what should be done and even if there was, funding and planning permission were major obstacles to overcome.
Graham Hibbert, of the East Guildford Residents Association asked could it be confirmed that the University had a long term plan and did they discuss it with GBC? The answers were, ‘Yes and yes.” said the Vice Chancellor.

‘Celebrate Surrey’
Madeleine McGowan, the University’s Director of Communications and PR, spoke on this subject and distributed a leaflet which explained that it was a ‘…programme of public events which recognises the contribution that both the University and the Sports park make to the intellectual, economic and cultural life of the local, national and global community.’

Sports Park
In answer to a question on the Sports Park, the Vice Chancellor said that the Sports Park was running at a loss which was born by the University. However, that was what had been expected and the loss was within that planned in their budget. The centre he said, was a facility that benefitted the local community as well as the students.

Parking and Cycle Routes
The Westborough representative raised the issue of those working and studying at the University parking in nearby streets and expressed disappointment at the length of time it was taking the University to respond to the problem. George Melly responded by explaining that there whilst there was no shortage of land there was a constraint on the number of parking spaces the University was allowed to create. There appeared to be wide agreement that the development of more and improved cycle routes to and from and within the campus was a good idea. The Borough Council and the University were already working together on this.

In addition to ten representatives from the University, the meeting was attended by representatives of the following residents associations: Queen Elizabeth Park, Jacob’s Well, Ridgemount, East Guildford, Onslow Village, Park Barn & Westborough, Burpham, St Catherine’s as well as the Guildford and the Tyting Societies, the Student Union and the Police.

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