Exorbitant student accomodation at UCL East

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, looking towards ArcelorMittal Orbit and the London Stadium

UCL East students will face central London prices for accommodation in decidedly-not-central London.

The primary justification for building UCL’s new campus six miles away from Bloomsbury in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the relatively cheap land in the area, yet it appears UCL East students will not benefit from the lower cost of housing in Stratford.

Instead, they can expect to be charged upwards of £190/wk (bills, cleaning and security included) to live in student housing or be forced onto the private rental market.

Pool Street West, one of the two buildings making up the first stage of development at UCL East, will be partly dedicated to student residences.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the architecture firm designing Pool Street West estimated there would be 520 rooms available, each costing approximately £190/wk in self-catered, en-suite accommodation.

A UCL spokesperson justified this figure, saying that the accommodation in Stratford would be “a significant improvement in terms of quality and space,” and “significantly lower than the rent charged for the same room type in Bloomsbury”. Both of these statements are true — a similar room in Bloomsbury costs £235.55/wk — but conceal a problem.

What UCL is offering in Stratford is luxury student accommodation. There is no option for a shared bathroom or smaller room, an option many students would take to save £50 a week.

The location of UCL East presents a problem for students renting privately. Accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the Olympic Park is both limited and expensive.

The options appear to be: pay what UCL asks; rent in the even more expensive Unite Stratford ONE or a nearby flat; or get somewhere cheaper but far away.

If land is so cheap in the Olympic Park, why is rent so high?

Sasha Baker

This article was published in CG Issue 59.