Fresh new halls are filling the huge void left by the emptying of the Owens Park Tower at the start of this academic year.
Mansion Point is the latest of these additions to Fallowfield life, offering a renovated Allen Hall, the old postgraduate accommodation on Wilmslow Road, from the beginning of next academic year.
It’s been bought by the Cheadle-based Mansion Group for nearly £5m which is reconfiguring the site and increasing capacity from 124 beds to more than 200.
The University of Manchester objected to the project saying it was concerned about the over supply of student accommodation at a time of falling demand.
According to a document prepared for Mansion Group in late 2017 there are about 23,600 student beds in Manchester, with 60% controlled by the universities. The rest is in private hands.
Manchester is the fourth location for Mansion after Durham, Newcastle, and Leeds. Mansion Point will be its most expensive offering with the cheapest accommodation priced at £135 a week.
In line with other private accommodation in Manchester such as iQ, Mansion Point is promising a wide range of facilities such as a cinema room, pool table, TVs for each flat, and a promise of greater security.
Given recent reports that Withington is victim to the most burglaries in Manchester, students will undoubtedly flock to those newer developments that claim to guarantee better safety, but those students who don’t want to, or are unable to pay out vast sums for shiny, new accommodation, face being priced out of student halls if current trends continue.
Mansion Point’s price puts it roughly on par with the University’s own Richmond Park, but there’s a shortage of affordable housing for first-year students. An Oak House room without a basin is still available for £99 a week, up slightly on previous years, but there are no more sub-£100 rooms on the market.
Less affluent students have no stake in these new developments and it’s clear they’re not the intended audience; pricier halls can only lead to wealthier students, and this takes away from the diverse and pluralistic place that university, especially in Manchester, should be.
The University’s new development, Unsworth Park, follows a similar path. Due to be completed for next academic year next to the current Richmond Park, Unsworth is being marketed to an upper echelon of students.
Student accommodation is a critical issue and mirrors in many ways the fabric of Fallowfield and other student areas.
Increased privatisation leads to residents and students having a smaller say in what form the local area takes in the future, and higher prices only seeks to alienate large quantities of people who would otherwise be welcomed into Fallowfield or its neighbouring areas. Mansion Point may be offering slick stylish living, but this all comes at a great cost.