Words by Grace Raines
The University of Sussex has confirmed that Park Village is set to be demolished.
Providing affordable accommodation on campus since the ‘70s, Park Village, and the surrounding Park Houses, are to be demolished to make way for newer and more costly accommodation.
Park Village is Sussex’s latest accommodation to close, following the replacement of the original East Slope, which closed in 2017. Both accommodations provided affordable housing, with Park Village offering a shared-bathroom study bedroom for £95 per week (2020/2021).
The university announced plans for a new development in March 2020, citing that if confirmed, the new ‘West Slope’ development would consist of increased study areas within a new library, a café, supermarket, and 1,900 new bedrooms where the original Park Village originally stood.
The university claims that Park Village has become ‘very tired’, and that student feedback indicates demand for ‘high-quality, en-suite study bedrooms’.
However, the proposed development has sparked criticism, with students questioning the university’s dedication to providing affordable accommodation for all. The Sussex Renters Union has called for students to oppose development plans, as increased rent prevents individuals from low-income backgrounds from attending university.
First year law student, Liam, criticises Sussex for ‘strip[ping] campus of yet more affordable housing’ during the pandemic, which has seen increased economic strain and job loss, as this prevents students from having equal opportunity to reside on campus ‘without fear of being able to afford rent’.
When asking two students who lived in Park Village during their first year, similar comments were made. ‘I met all my best friends there’ explains Hannah, stating more affordable accommodation shouldn’t be replaced ‘if there isn’t a similar price alternative’ available. The proposed en-suite rooms would cost upwards of £172.75 per week based on East Slope’s current rent, a price not easily afforded by all. Eloise states Park Village’s low rent ‘made life a lot less stressful finance wise’, and that she ‘could actually justify buying bread from the Co-Op’ as a result.
On-campus accommodation now starts at £118.50 for a shared-bathroom study bedroom in Norwich House, almost £100 more a month than Park Village . As accommodation prices year-on-year have continuously increased, this is likely to continue to rise with each academic year.
Picture Credit: Simon Carey