Planning for Student Accommodation

Nottingham is a university city with two highly regarded Universities, namely the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University.  Important to Nottingham’s national and international reputation, the universities attract substantial investment, provide considerable local employment and support growth across a range of sectors.

Set out below is some useful information on student accommodation and the monitoring the Council undertakes on the Council's Local Plan related policies.

There has been a growing student population in Nottingham in recent years and therefore it is important that the Council, along with its partners help to facilitate growth in suitable student accommodation.  

The development of such a thriving education sector has had a significant impact on the characteristics of Nottingham’s population and its associated housing requirements. Whilst the continued growth and success of the sector is strongly supported, as reflected by Local Plan Policy LS2, it is important to ensure that planning policies provide a suitable framework to address the particular housing needs associated with this.  This needs to be done in a way that supports the creation of sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities throughout the City in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and Policy 8 of the Core Strategy.

The Council utilises Council Tax Exemption data to help monitor the location of students within the City.  This is not a perfect science as it relies on all people within a household being registered as a full-time student, however it does give a reasonably good indication of where students live within the city. 

This data alongside other known Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) is used in the assessment of planning application for the change of use of C3 Traditional Housing to C4 HMOs (required as a result of the Article 4 Direction).  It is also used to determine applications for large HMOs (6 or more occupants) and for the extension to C4 properties that give rise to additional bedrooms.  See Policy HO6: Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and Purpose Built Student Accommodation and Appendix 6 of the Local Plan.

Generally, in areas of the City which are not being promoted by Purpose Built Student Accommodation and there is a concentration level of over 10% of HMOs/student households, this constitutes a 'significant concentration'  and such applications will be resisted.

The table and graph below show the Council Tax of Student Exemptions (CTEs) broken down for those classed as 'halls' (Purpose Built Student Accommodation) and 'student households' (on-street housing). These figures are refined on an annual basis with an update provided from Council Tax data extracted in November.

Although the number of CTEs has seen a year on year rise, the number of students has increased substantially too.  The vast majority increases in CTEs has been in PBSA with on-street exemptions showing a gradual fall and in recent years remaining reasonably static.  


‘Halls’ exempt from Council tax (PBSA)

‘Student households’ exempt from Council tax (On street)

Total Council Tax  exemptions














































Graph showing Student Council Tax Exemptions (2011-2021)

The Council is required to publish an annual Authority Monitoring Report and part of this monitors student accommodation.

Given the demand for student accommodation including on street traditional housing and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) it is considered important to have the most up-to-date information available.  As student data is out of sync with the other AMR data (based instead on the academic year September to September) this information is provided in the Updated Student Information when the monitoring is available (update to be provided shortly).  The document provides additional data related to Student Concentration Map (Appendix 3), Student bedspaces completed and projected for Academic Year 2020/21 (Appendix 4) and details of future student accommodation (Appendix 5).

Restrictions on HMO and permitted development

An Article 4 Direction (A4D) removes the right to carry out certain types of 'permitted development'. In Nottingham an A4D was imposed in 2012 requiring a planning application to be submitted to convert a family dwelling (C3) to an HMO (C4) with between 3 and 6 unrelated people sharing. Planning permission is required for properties shared by 7 or more unrelated people.

This A4D covers the whole of the City.

Further information about applying for the change of use or extension of a C4 property is available on our Restrictions on HMO and permitted development web page.  

Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) app

The Council has an extensive database of the Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) within the City.  This data is used to monitor the pipeline of PBSA coming forward and to carry out the annual vacancy survey.  This data is now available within our PBSA App

The PBSA App shows the location of all known PBSA within the City as well as schemes which are likely to come forward in the next few years (with or likely to get planning permission).  It is also possible to download the data in Excel format.  The data is updated including the likely date a scheme will become operational periodically and includes a breakdown of studio and cluster bedspaces per scheme. 

If you have any questions in regard to using the PBSA App please email in the first instance.


Rent levels within Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) or on street houses rented to students are not directly monitored by the Council.  However, the following graph has been produced by Unipol (Student Accommodation charity), which operates in Nottingham and who the Council works very closely with.  This is a revised figure based on actual rent levels for the academic year 2022-23.


  • Average on-street student accommodation in shared HMO is approx. £120 per week.
  • There is a wide range of PBSA rents from approx. £105 to £325 depending on the location of the scheme, the facilities offered and the size and type of room.
  • The figures include both individual Studio flats as well as bedspaces within cluster flats.
  • There are only a few PBSA schemes which are lower in rent than on street HMOs and in these cases, it is only part of those schemes which are lower in price. These will inevitably be older PBSA which are often less accessible and likely to offer less facilities both within the room (e.g. no En-Suite) or within the PBSA scheme itself (less social facilities including for example, no gym, cinema etc).
  • The most expensive scheme is charging approx. £325 per week for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Please view a graph showing the 2022 - 2023 Nottingham Weekly Rent Comparison (44 weeks)

Latest Vacancy Survey 2021-22

For the past 8 years the Council has carried out an annual Vacancy Survey on the occupation levels of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA).

Despite a significant growth in the amount of PBSA bedspaces there are no signs that this growth has led to a fall in occupation levels.  In fact, for the 8 years of the survey the vacancy levels have been below 2%*.  The results are set out below.

Academic Year

Reported Vacancy Rate %

















* Due to the pandemic, the vacancy survey was carried out differently for the academic year 2020-21.  See the PBSA Vacancy Results 2020-21.

Latest Vacancy Survey 2021-22

The results from the PBSA Vacancy Survey 2021-22 show that the market has bounced back from the previous year’s artificially high vacancy rates due to the pandemic.  It also shows that Nottingham remains a very strong market with consistently low vacancy rates for all the years the survey has been carried out. 

A further PBSA vacancy survey is planned for the forthcoming academic year (2022/23) and details will be provided when available.  

In 2021 the Council adopted the Affordable Housing Contributions arising from Student Accommodation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  

The SPD provides guidance to developers on the Council's new requirements for developer contributions from Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) to be used towards affordable housing. This supplements Policy 8 of the Aligned Core Strategy 2014 (ACS) and Policy HO3: Affordable Housing in the Land and Planning Policies Local Plan Part 2 - 2020 (LAPP).  In particular, it sets out the commuted sum that will be required in lieu of on-site affordable housing provision on sites providing PBSA within Nottingham City and explains the mechanism for calculating these contributions.

Further details can be found on the Affordable Housing Contributions arising from Student Accommodation Supplementary Planning Document web page.  Note that the affordable housing contributions are subject to annual review with details set out on the S106 revised contributions webpage.

Student Living Strategy

In partnership with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University the Council is in the process of developing a Student Living Strategy.

Further details can be found on the Student Living Strategy webpage.

The Local Plan team are hybrid working and so you are advised to make initial contact by emailing

Contact Us

The Local Plan team are hybrid working and so you are advised to make initial contact by emailing

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