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Developers are delighted after winning decade long fight

Property developers have won a ten year fight to build housing on former army land after the Scottish Government overruled a council decision to reject the bid. Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes will now build 75 properties on the land in Colinton.

The council chiefs had twice previously rejected the proposals, which local residents claim will lead to the small village of Colinton having its population doubled in the next few years. Plans to develop the land were first drawn up twelve years ago, prompting angry residents to start a campaign to try and raise the £50,000 they needed to buy the land from the Ministry of Defence. The campaign failed but it did not matter as the council rejected the proposal.

The developers submitted a new planning application in 2004 which was again rejected after 2,000 people objected individually. A third application was made six months ago, and when this was refused Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes then appealed to the Scottish Government who overruled the decision and gave the go ahead to build the mix of housing which will include some social houses that will be protected by the cheapest landlord insurance. Colinton Amenity Association (CAA), who have been opposing the development from day one are very disappointed with the decision of the city council to give up after a decade of standing firm.

Ward Councillor Jason Rust said: “This is a black day for Coliton and devastating news for the local community despite their best efforts and for all the people who have objected. It seems that Scottish Government advice about appropriate land supply has outranked the council’s city development plan. This is particularly unfortunate since there seems to be no shortage of sites in practice and there is already a lot of uncertainly in relation to the Barracks sites.”

Headingley reclaimed by families and former residents

Estate agents in the Leeds suburb of Headingley feel the rising transport costs and the increased number of student accommodation available closer to Leeds City centre is prompting students to leave the area which has for some time been called “Student land”.

Houses up for sale in Headingley are being snapped up by families acquiring insurance for let properties who want to take advantage of the shops, schools and restaurants that are on their doorstep. The student exodus has been revealed by estate agents in Headingley who took part in research on the property market in Leeds. The research focused on how property is selling; where the cheapest and most expensive properties are; and what buyers want when it comes to a property.

Michael Moore, executive partner at estate agents in Headingley, said “Five years ago over 70% of property sold by our firm in Headingley was bought by landlords who would protect their investment with landlord insurance whereas now, that figure stands at less than 10%. A lot of students are moving back towards Hyde Park because they are closer to lectures and closer to the city centre. Transport costs are high, which will have had an impact, and there is also more purpose-built accommodation.”

This means that Headingley is fast becoming much more desirable for families and there are also a lot of buyers who used to live there but moved out because of the problems of too many students. The residents say they are not anti-student and it is not a case getting rid of people, the problem is, they have not had a balanced community for many years. They want a nice mixed population and that’s exactly what they are starting to see now that the students are moving nearer to the city centre.

Landlords advised to check new tenants

As a new university intake prepare to leave home for the first time, landlords in the cities that are getting ready to welcome them have been warned to reference check their prospective new tenants before offering them a contract.

With demand for university places at record highs this year, due to many students wanting to avoid the increase in tuition fees coming in next year, many property investors have been purchasing property insurance on new homes to take advantage of the extra business. There seems little likelihood of any good landlord experiencing difficulty in securing tenants for the university year, however, Landlord Assist, a company who specialise in tenant eviction, insist that landlords must be wary about the new influx of customers.

Graham Kinnear, the Managing director of Landlord Assist, explained just how important checks were for landlords saying “Referencing is a very important part of any tenancy agreement and should be standard practice for any landlord whether the tenant is a student or not.

“Although a full financial check may not be possible due to the students limited credit history, carrying out employer checks and referencing their parents will help landlords to paint a vivid picture of their character and should give a good indication of whether they can afford their rent or not. Generally speaking students should have a guarantor to support their application given that, as students, many will only have had a part time job or indeed no employment record at all.”

There is no doubt that many landlords regard student letting as a profitable venture, and indeed because of their willingness to share rooms, student tenants can bring in more revenue than alternative sources. Reference checking can be expensive but may save a landlord money in the long term.