STOOD surrounded by hundreds of students Ros Lopez is set to be the last homeowner in her street.

Ms Lopez, 62, says she will be the only non-student resident in London Terrace as she is “overwhelmed” by a sea of students.

The 62-year-old told The Argus she will be the only resident in the street who is not a student because a neighbouring widower and his family face eviction as student housing developers have taken over the property. 

Of the six terraced homes in the road, she says the five properties around her are either student rentals or could soon become so. have been taken over with a view to becoming so.

To add to the situation, 350 students live in the former Co-op building opposite – now Abacus House.

As developers plan to make room for yet more students, Ms Lopez said she fears she will be forced out of her home of 27 years.

Neighbours, widower Mohamed Alqueshawi and his three children, have been served an eviction notice.

Mr Alqueshawi, whose wife Hadil lost her fight against cancer in 2012, was notified by student housing agency G4Lets that he had to move out after they took over management of his house after it was bought by a new owner in April.

Ms Lopez said: “When I moved to this street in 1988 it was all owner occupiers.

“There were other families in the street, my son grew up here playing with all the neighbours kids. It was a real community.

“We used to have street parties for the children’s birthdays and bouncy castles in the street.

“Now, I feel like the whole area has been swamped. I feel like I’m being forced out of my home. It is going to destroy the whole community.

“My house backs on to five other gardens and if they are all full of students it will be constant disruptions.

“I have lived here for 27 years and now I’m going to be the only person who’s not a student in the road. I feel like an island.

“Then there is Abacus with another 350 students.”

Ms Lopez said she has been discouraged from introducing herself to the students in order to build some kind of a relationship with them because of the noise and problems she has had to endure.

Now she says there are plans to build a dormer and extend her neighbouring property to house more students.

Ms Lopez said: “I don’t mind students and they are part of living in a vibrant city but it can’t be right for them to occupy virtually every house in the street.

“There needs to be a better mix.

“I thought the whole point of student housing developments like the Co-op building was that it would prevent the problem of students taking over family homes, but that’s exactly what’s happening with Mohamed and his girls being evicted.”

Of the four properties other than Ms Lopez’s and Mr Alqueshawi’s, Brighton and Hove City Council’s register already lists one as a licensed house of multiple occupation (HMO). Last year it was advertised for rent as a five bedroom student house.

Another was advertised for rent as a four-bed student property earlier this year.

It is currently divided into three flats but plans have been submitted to convert it back into one property to house up to ten students.

Planning applications have been submitted to convert two flats at another into one large property to house eight to ten students.

The council said that planning rules should prevent some of those properties being developed from being licensed as HMOs.

However, dedicated student lettings company G4Lets already manages several of the properties – leading to concerns there are still plans to create more student houses in the street.

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “An article 4 planning direction covers this ward. An Article 4 is a control mechanism to take away permitted development rights.

“This means that in this area planning permission is required to turn a house into a HMO.

"When we get a planning application we look at what HMOs there are already in the vicinity (i.e. 50 metre radius) of the site.

"If there are already 10% or more in a HMO use within that radius we would refuse an application.

“Every application is assessed in this way and the number of applications which the council is dealing with makes no difference to the assessment.”

After failing to fight the eviction proceedings in court, Mr Alqueshawi said he had sent his daughters Dana, ten, Leanne, eight, and Lamees, three, to stay with his brother while he is told the bailiffs could arrive to force him out at any day.

He said: “My children have already lost their mother and now they are losing their home.

“I have been evicted but I am still in the property. I have a notice to say the bailiffs will arrive within seven days.

“How can I explain to my kids that we don’t have a choice?

“It’s like being stabbed in my heart.

“We have lived her nine years.

"This is our home.”


THERE are 37,000 students at Brighton and Hove’s two universities.

Even more if you include all those at other educational establishments such as City College and BIMM.

Many families feel priced out of their neighbourhoods as developers cash in on the highly lucrative student rental market.

And with the universities continually expanding and government policy to encourage more international students into the country it is a growing problem.

Legislation to prevent over-studentification was brought in in 2010, meaning that in the five worst affected wards of the city, special licences need to be obtained to permit a house to be converted into a home of multiple occupation (HMO).

And the city’s student strategy produced around the same time aimed to make way for more dedicated student housing developments.

At the bottom of London Terrace, the 351-bed Abacus development in the former Co-op building seems to have been a success.

Generally considered to be part of the overall improvements seen in London Road over the past couple of years, even originally sceptical neighbours seem impressed.

Ros Lopez said: “I spent three years fighting against the Co-op development because I was concerned about that number of students and levels of noise.

“But to be fair it’s been very well managed.”

However, analysing the student property market, estate agents Knight Frank (COR) identified a “demand supply imbalance” between the number of students and the amount of available properties.

Their research in Brighton and Hove found there were only enough beds in university managed halls of residence to house a quarter of the city’s students.

And while cities like Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool were found to have a significant proportion of purpose-built student accommodation, in Brighton and Hove the amount was so negligible it did not even register on results – so the remaining 75 per cent of students are living in HMOs or at home.

Their research found that students preferred purpose-built blocks to HMOs and were even prepared to pay higher rents.

Purpose-built blocks may well be a way to avoid neighbourhoods being taking over by students, but residents do not always seem to want them, despite the success of the Co-op building.

The 205-bedroom block planned for Hollingdean Road received 17 objections from neighbours, but gained the support of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership and will also bring in more than £400,0000 in public money for transport, open spaces and employment schemes.

A further 51-bed block in Lewes Road has been recommended for approval by planning officers but earlier plans for a similar development on the site were rejected, as reported in Saturday’s Argus.

One reason given for rejecting the earlier plans was: “The area surrounding the site contains a concentration of properties in multiple occupation which, as set out in policy CP21 [the council’s student housing policy], can impact negatively upon neighbouring amenity. The proposed development, which would result in an intensive occupation of the site, would worsen this situation and therefore has the potential to harm neighbouring amenity by way of increased activity and disturbance.”

The University of Sussex said they were looking for solutions to the issue and had hired a new deputy housing services manager to liaise with the private sector and distributed leaflets to their students about living amicably in the community.

A spokesman added: “Since 2008, we have built more new student rooms on our campus and we’ll be working closely with the city council and interested groups on our plans to build more campus accommodation over the next few years.

“While there will always be a proportion of our students who live in the city centre, we believe they help to make Brighton & Hove the unique, vibrant and prosperous place that it is.

“But out of a total population of 273,000 in Brighton and Hove, only around three per cent are University of Sussex students. Indeed, the majority of those living in Houses of Multiple Occupation are young professionals. So housing is clearly an issue that needs joined up and balanced thinking from individuals and organisations from across the city.

“Even so, we are constantly looking for other creative solutions to help the city’s housing situation and, as an example, we have worked with partners to house Sussex students at the refurbished Co-op building on London Road.

“Where our students do live more closely among other residents, we work with them and the local community to help them get along and manage any issues that arise.

“We expect our students to behave well and we proactively give them tips on integrating into the community, encouraging them to be friendly, volunteer, respect their neighbours, and keep their houses clean and tidy. We also have a package of support and procedures in place if there is a problem.”

Undoubtedly the city is popular with students and they play an important part in contributing to our economy.

Partly what gives the city its vibrant culture is the people who came here as students, fell in love and never left.

But a balance does need to be struck in finding somewhere for all those students to live in a city already contending with a shortage of social housing, a lack of space due to the geographic borders of the sea and the Downs, and sky-rocketing house prices.


BRIGHTON and Hove City Council has been working on strategies to help students live in harmony with their neighbours for years.

The council’s Student Housing Strategy intended to tackle the thorny issue of striking a balance between the need to find homes for some 37,000 odd students and maintaining communities.

The strategy set out several objectives: “To promote and enable the appropriate development of purpose built student accommodation at suitable locations within the city.”

It said: “The provision of additional bed spaces in purpose built student accommodation will also assist in encouraging students to choose managed accommodation over HMO’s.

“The city has a high number of HMOs, partly as the supply of purpose-built accommodation has not matched the expansion of the student population and partly due to housing prices and availability within the city. The private sector has responded positively to the increasing demand for student housing and there has been a significant conversion of family housing to student occupied HMOs in many neighbourhoods. Another aim of the Student Housing Strategy is to support and enhance the quality and management of housing and residential environments within HMO dominated neighbourhoods.”

In April 2013 the council was granted new powers in several areas which were worst affected by “studentification”.

In Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Queen’s Park, and St Peter’s and North Laine wards, properties lived in by between three and six people with shared facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom require a HMOs license, as well as larger properties.

However, despite this effort, the residents have complained that they still feel they are being overrun by students.

The Article 4 direction means planning permission is required for change of a use to a small HMO in those areas – which includes London Terrace.

Under the rules, HMO licensing should be refused by the council if there is already more than 10 per cent saturation in the surrounding areas, but residents fear student landlords adding extra bedrooms, dormer windows and combining flats into larger properties is a sign that they hope to push ahead.

The council said it was in favour of dedicated student blocks over converting family homes.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “Council planning policy aims to increase the supply of purpose-built student accommodation. This seeks to reduce demand for conversion of family homes. Like many university cities we have local planning controls over the concentrations of student households in some wards. But the legislation would not allow us to ban student households entirely in these areas.”