The purpose built student housing (PBSA) development nexus and its impact on inner-urban Sheffield
Supervised by Dr Sarah Payne (primary supervisor) and Professor Adam Leaver (secondary supervisor).
Between 2000 and 2019 Sheffield experienced a significant change in its city centre built environment through the development of over 22,000 bed spaces in private sector purpose built student accommodation (PBSA). This development continues and is resulting in one of the highest spatial concentrations of students in the UK.
The PBSA development nexus that has pushed forward this rapid urban change is the inter-action between the political economy of higher education, expressed through Sheffield's two universities, the local authority, expressed through the planning process, and private sector capital, expressed through the private sector companies planning, designing, building and operating PBSAs.
The research positions itself in the tradition of critical realism and draws upon an explanatory, sequential, mixed methods methodology that first aims to measure and describe the PBSA dynamic, and then looks to explain it. The explanatory aspect is addressed through semi-structured interviews with actors within the field of Sheffield's PBSA development nexus.
The research utilises a theoretical frame adapted from that posited by Stones (2005 p85) known as a quadripartite nature of structuration. Within this the external structure is acknowledged as neo-liberal capitalism within which agents (nexus components) operate with specific knowledge & habitus that informs their decision-making and partnerships. Such intellectual positionality enables the research to fall within the description of the political economy of private sector student accommodation.
The research also has a practical element in helping to inform citizens in Sheffield of the dynamics that lie behind the transformation of their city centre which they may be minded to express through the political process. Personally I have lived through this whole built environment transformation as a long-term resident of inner-urban Sheffield.
I arrived in Sheffield in 1982 aged 20 to study geography at Sheffield City Polytechnic. I have been a geographer ever since. I was awarded a PGCE by the University of Nottingham in 1987. I taught in secondary schools from 1987 to 1996 interspersed by two year long trips across Asia, and a part-time degree in Social Policy from Sheffield Hallam University awarded in 1993. In 1996 I was appointed Lecturer in Geography at the Sheffield College and spent the next 19 years teaching A level Geography, Adult Access to HE and AS Critical Thinking. I was Curriculum manager for Social Science and English and an elected staff governor.
In 2015 I took voluntary redundancy and have since worked for The University of Sheffield as a Lecturer in Community Development (2016-18), Associate Lecturer in Social Science at The University of Sheffield International College (2018-to present) and Associate Lecturer in Geography at Sheffield Hallam University (2018-19).
I first became a member of the board of directors of Heeley City Farm, Sheffield in 1995. Today I am vice-chair and it is a £1m a year urban sustainability project focused on urban food, renewable and affordable energy, rare breeds, youth-work and health projects. It also hosts a yearly community festival of 39 years standing.
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