£40m a year student boost for Leeds as the Merrion Centre becomes "the new Headingley"

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For decades the Headingley and Hyde Park areas have been home to Leeds’s massive student population.

However, all of this could be set to change with the area around the city’s Arena Quarter set to welcome a massive influx of new student dwellings.

The Merrion Centre. Picture: Gary Longbottom

The Merrion Centre. Picture: Gary Longbottom

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Projections produced by developer Cushman & Wakefield show that the number of students set to be based in the Merrion Centre area is expected to soar by 35 per cent in the next two years.

A spokesperson said: “In reality, this figure is likely to be higher given the wealthy demographics most likely to be attracted to planned high-end accommodation – especially the Vita Student product.”

More than 5,000 residential units, 93 per cent of which have planning approval, will serve the growth in student numbers, particularly from the Far East and Middle Eastern markets, coming to the city.

The growth is being driven primarily by the fact that the University of Leeds was the fastest-growing university in the UK between 2015/16 and 2016/17 – with full-time student numbers growing by over 2,000 in a single year.

Student flats near the city centre in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

Student flats near the city centre in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

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The report, commissioned by Leeds-based Town Centre Securities, also shows that the rise in student numbers could be worth an estimated £40m a year increase in student spending by 2021.

Six planned student schemes around TCS’s The Merrion Centre, are being readied to appeal to wealthy international students, notably from China which has seen an 86 per cent growth since 2012/13.

The findings are included in the Student Impact Study, which Cushman & Wakefield has compiled. A total of 48 per cent of all students in the area around The Merrion Centre are from outside the UK, far higher than the 17 per cent average of non-UK students across the city

The number of students at the University of Leeds who are from countries outside of the European Union has grown by 27 per cent since 2011, more than double the national average. A total of 85 per cent of all international students in the city study at the University of Leeds.

Students walk through Woodhouse Moor close to the traditional home to the city's student population. Picture: Mark Bickerdike.

Students walk through Woodhouse Moor close to the traditional home to the city's student population. Picture: Mark Bickerdike.

The findings are published just a few days after another leading developer said that an increase in city centre living could help transform Leeds into a genuine 24-hour economy.

Bosses at the Caddick Group are pushing ahead with the SoYo development near to the Leeds Playhouse.