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Western plans to build new residences to ease student housing stress

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In an effort to provide more “safe and affordable living options,” Western University recently announced plans to construct two new residence buildings.

The university is in the final planning stages of building the new residences that will house 1,000 students on campus.

“Providing housing options is really important for our students,” said Chris Alleyne, associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services. “Our students have told us they’re looking for housing that’s conveniently located, provides a supportive environment, and prioritizes their safety.”

The undergraduate residence will be located on University Drive, next to Elgin Hall, and will house between 600 and 800 students. This residence will be located just inside the university’s main entrance off of Richmond Street.

The style of the residence will be hybrid, with two bedrooms sharing a private washroom.

An apartment building set to house 300 upper-year and graduate students, and some international students, will be built on Platt’s Lane.

The building will focus on “independent living,” and will be comprised of studio apartments, one-bedroom units, and two-bedroom units.

According to Western, students emphasized wellness and a connection to nature as top priorities during the consultation phase. Proposed features of the new University Drive residence include a fitness facility, outdoor gathering spaces, and the use of natural light and finishes.

"We recognize this is the front door to the university in many ways,” said Alleyne. “The building design needs to reflect the values of the institution and welcome the community to campus.”

Western runs the second-largest network of residences in the country, according to Alleyne. With a total of 11 residences on campus, housing more than 5,000 undergraduate students.

“It’s fantastic to see Western building these bed spaces. That’s going to go a long way,” said Mike Moffatt, founding director of Place Centre at Smart Prosperity Institute.

The city’s fast-growing population is an added challenge for students who are often competing with the public for affordable homes.

“What you’re also seeing is investors buy up a lot of single family homes and then renting them out to students as student rentals and we’ve always had that in London near Fanshawe [College] and Western,” Moffatt explained. “But now you’re starting to see it in neighbourhoods like Fairmont that historically hadn’t seen many college and university students.”

“This housing shortage affects the entire spectrum of the housing supply and the housing market,” said Moffatt

Designs for the buildings are set to go to Western’s board of governors in the fall for final approval, with construction set to break ground in spring 2024.

The university is considering phased openings potentially starting in September 2025 to accommodate students as soon as possible, with the residences expected to be fully operational by September 2026.

— With files from CTV News London's Ashley Hyshka

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