News Walthamstow

Waltham Forest set to welcome 3,000 university students by end of decade

The influx means at least 1,200 students will need purpose-built accommodation in the borough, reports Sebastian Mann, Local Democracy Reporter

Photo supplied by Waltham Forest Council

3,000 university students will be studying in Waltham Forest by the end of the decade.

University of Portsmouth welcomed the first round of 90 postgraduate students to their brand-new Walthamstow campus in February.

In May, around 620 more will join them, including the first wave of 120 undergraduates studying towards a bachelor’s degree.  

The number of students will rise to a total of 3,000 to 1,040 undergraduates and 1,960 postgraduates by 2031. 

The university estimates that around 1,200 students will need purpose-built accommodation. 

The remaining 1,800 are expected to be local residents with existing housing or students who will commute to the borough.  

The interior of Juniper House, located in Hoe Street, will be completed by April 2024 in readiness for the first student cohort, according to a council report.

Juniper House comprises two floors of classrooms and ‘social learning spaces,’ and green spaces such as a winter garden.

Central House, also in Hoe Street, will be the headquarters of the university campus and is currently in the pre-planning stage, the council says. 

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The campus will be the first higher-education institution in the borough, and has been developed as part of the Hampshire university’s aim to expand and become one of the top young universities in the world. 

It has come at no cost to the council, with the University of Portsmouth bankrolling the development alongside its partner Northchild Developments. 

Initial outlines predicted the university campus would bring in £372million of “wider economic benefits to the borough” over the next two decades.

On top of making no financial contribution, the authority stood to gain from the sale of Central House. 

It was previously reported to have agreed to sell it for £5.1m, having purchased it for £4.87m – a profit of around £230,000. 

Though the council says there will be a variety of benefits for residents looking to enrol, proposals for student accommodation in the area have been controversial. 

A 17-storey tower block has been proposed for Brunner Road, comprising 437 student flats. 

Local residents have objected to the scheme, citing concerns with the loss of privacy, light and its impact on the “character” of Walthamstow. 

However, similar plans for a six-storey housing block on the site of St James Health Centre was approved in November, with the council’s planning committee ruling its impact on the surrounding area was “acceptable”. 

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