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Re-contextualising purpose-built student accommodation in secondary cities: The role of planning policy, consultation and economic need during austerity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Julia Heslop



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


The rise of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) has become a dominant feature of many secondary cities over the last decade. These cities often have weaker property markets than ‘primary’ or capital cities and often rely on the ‘knowledge economy’ to drive economic and urban development. A growing body of work has explored the effects of ‘new-build studentification’ and its relationship to economic crisis and the financialisation of housing. Less attention has been paid to how the localised political and economic impacts of austerity led to the creation of particular planning policies and actions to facilitate PBSA. Through a case study of a housing estate in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, whose ward has seen a 467% increase in student housing numbers, this article highlights that student housing is shaped not merely by issues of supply and demand but also often by planning practice and local economic demands. Whilst we recognise that PBSA development is also reliant on particular global economic conditions and investment strategies, this article calls for a more relational, contextual approach to examining PBSA. We pay specific attention to local political and institutional actors and their policies, working practices and social constructs amidst austerity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heslop J, Chambers J, Maloney J, Spurgeon G, Swainston H, Woodall H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Studies

Year: 2023

Volume: 60

Issue: 5

Pages: 923–940

Print publication date: 01/05/2023

Online publication date: 21/11/2022

Acceptance date: 20/07/2022

Date deposited: 16/06/2023

ISSN (print): 0042-0980

ISSN (electronic): 1360-063X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/00420980221121569


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Funder referenceFunder name
School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University