Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 17:59 UK

Move to end 'student ghost towns'

terraced housing
Some areas are almost deserted once the university holidays begin

The government may tighten planning laws to end concentrations of student houses in England's university towns.

The Department of Communities and Local Government is considering building on the introduction of licensing for houses in multiple occupation.

It says "studentification" makes some areas "ghost towns" during holidays.

Places such as Nottingham, Southampton, Loughborough and Bristol have seen increasing numbers of rented properties empty outside term-time.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint said: "It is not acceptable that in too many areas, people living in houses in multiple occupation and local communities alike are having their quality of life affected.

"We must have balanced, sustainable communities," she said.

"I want to know what more we can do to provide the right housing in the right place, guarantee proper living conditions for all, and ensure our towns are places people want to live and work in over the long term."

Student halls

Her department has commissioned outside consultants to investigate and come up with proposals within a couple of months.

It will investigate how the planning system can create "more effective management" of such shared homes and disperse concentrations.

"Universities are already looking at ways to improve the situation," a spokesman said.

"Many have invested heavily in new student halls, created community relations officers and Loughborough University now requires their students to sign a code of conduct."

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