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Ghent calls on landowners to develop sustainable student housing

Ghent calls on landowners to develop sustainable student housing

The move is part of the city’s strategy to act against the local affordable-housing crisis by focusing on the development of student accommodation

Today, the city of Ghent in Belgium put out a call for landowners, who have undeveloped property near student campuses. Local authorities have announced that they will offer them a guided advisory service for the development of sustainable student housing units.

The move was prompted by the city’s dire student housing situation, as shown by a 2021 report. One of the key findings from the report was that Ghent lacked lodgings for around 10,000 students, either as student accommodation or on the rental market.

Earlier this month, city officials unveiled their plan to tackle the shortage, with one of the key measures focusing on the long-term supply and demand factors at play.  The city wants to take an active role in discussing expansions of university programmes on the local level so that a sudden influx of foreign and domestic students does not destabilise the housing market at the start of every semester.

Taking the first steps to solve the crisis

One of the first steps local authorities will take to calm the local housing market is to proactively look for suitable land and suitable development options. A key factor here is that the city wants to focus on student accommodation specifically, rather than on general housing.

This is because they are trying to separate the two markets, as people who move long-term to Ghent or are just looking for a place to live, tend to have a different set of demands than students. Student housing demands, for instance, gravitate towards shorter leases, as many out-of-town and out-of-country visitors do not stay over the summer.

At the same time, according to the 2021 housing report, students themselves prefer designated accommodation rather than opting for the private market.

This way now, Ghent officials are offering support to people who own at least 1,000 square metres of land that is within a 10-minute bike ride to a university. The city wants to convince them to opt for the development of sustainable student housing on their land.

According to a press statement, Ghent will offer them know-how as well as a suitable project developer. They will also help draw up a high-quality design and act as a central point of contact. In this way, the land owner and the project developer would be guided to get a building permit as efficiently and as smoothly as possible.

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