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New research from CBRE has unveiled Bristol as the second most expensive city for student accommodation in the UK, closely trailing behind London.

The average weekly rent for Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in Bristol ranges from £335 to £382, a mere 3% less than rates in the capital.

CBRE's analysis of 30 major university towns across the UK highlights a significant disparity between rental costs and student maintenance loans. While the maximum annual maintenance loan stands at £10,227, reflecting an 18% increase since 2018/19, the average annual rent for an ensuite room has surged by 27% to £8,700, and for a studio by 37% to £11,950 over the same period. This year, maintenance loans are projected to rise by only 2.5%.

In comparison to Bristol's rates, London averages £325 to £433 per week, while Manchester ranges from £249 to £295, Brighton from £285 to £341, and Edinburgh from £214 to £301 per week.

The scarcity of student beds and slowed delivery to the market have exacerbated rental inflation. CBRE forecasts a potential shortfall of 620,000 student beds by 2028, with only 36,000 beds anticipated for delivery in that period, assuming an annual 1% growth in the student population.

Bristol specifically has seen only 2,900 beds delivered since 2018, despite an increased demand of 8,000 PBSA units during the same timeframe. Nick Reed, Director Residential Capital Markets at CBRE, emphasized the urgent need for affordable accommodation: "Bristol, ranking as the second most expensive city for PBSA outside London, risks excluding students due to escalating costs."

While developments like the planned Unite Student project, set to open with 596 beds by the 2025/26 academic year, aim to alleviate the housing shortage, delays such as those faced by the Bedminster Green PBSA, postponed to summer 2024 with 484 beds, underscore ongoing challenges in meeting demand promptly.

Reed stressed the critical importance of prioritizing development and ensuring accessibility to student accommodation amid rising costs and constrained supply. Despite these challenges, institutional investors continue to show strong interest, with nearly £4 billion in investment deals recorded in 2023 alone.

As universities increasingly turn to private sector partnerships to address accommodation deficits amidst budget constraints, initiatives like Unite Students' collaboration with Newcastle University for 2,000 new beds signify positive steps toward bridging the accommodation gap in university towns. Photo by neopeo, Wikimedia commons.