The desperate need for affordable student accommodation in Brighton has forced a housing group to turn to radical, if not desperate measures to help the city’s graduates.
Seasalt Housing Co-operative has submitted a planning application to turn a bed and breakfast guesthouse close to the city’s seafront into communally-run, low-cost accommodation for students.
The Co-operative is the first in the south of England to take such unusual measures to provide for a University town’s accommodation needs, and is a bid to offer a ‘third way’ between private rented accommodation and halls of residence.
Brighton has over 21,500 students attending its university and many more studying at other colleges, but those in the private renting sector face high rents of up to £1,000 a month plus bills, not helped by many former shared houses now being used for Airbnb short-lets.
“We are really trying to avoid looking at family houses as there is so much stress on those,” says Sam Orenstein from Seasalt.
“I think the way families in Brighton already see students is hostile as there are a lot of students living in what were family houses.”
Inevitably, a neighbouring guesthouse owner has raised concerns about potential noise from students living in the building, but Orenstein say that, as it would be a co-operative, the people living there would have a longer-term commitment to the property.
The application is supported by local MP Caroline Lucas and Green Party councillor Martin Osborne.
“The situation for students is not great, many end up at the mercy of the private rented sector, living in unaffordable, overcrowded and often poor-quality housing,” says Osborne (left).
“An under-explored alternative is housing which is owned by the students and I believe a student-led housing co-operative in Brighton such as Seasalt could be hugely successful.”
Read more about the Brighton rental market.