Demand for Student Digs Drives Brisbane Tower Higher


With the post-pandemic surge of tens of thousands of international students returning to study in Queensland it’s a full house in Brisbane’s student accommodation towers.

The spike in demand has prompted Australia’s largest student accommodation provider, Scape, to file revised plans upscaling an approved addition to the city’s purpose-built digs for scholars.

Under the plans, it is seeking to add four storeys to its greenlit development earmarked for a 1530sq m site at 41-47 Tribune Street, South Brisbane.

The reworked proposal increases the building height from 15 to 19 storeys, providing an extra 45 student accommodation beds—bolstering the tower’s residential yield from 479 to 524 beds.

According to the submitted planning assessment report, the changes are “in response to a high level of housing need”.

“In Brisbane, Scape currently has six operational buildings comprising 4000 bedrooms located in the South Bank and Toowong precincts,” the report said.

Significantly, it adds: “Scape’s Brisbane portfolio is currently full, and ... [it is] continuing to receive enquiries on a daily basis.that the student accommodation provider’s Brisbane portfolio “is currently full, and … continuing to receive enquiries on a daily basis”.

“Scape is proactively seeking to assist in alleviating the supply pressure currently being faced by students (and renters in general) by fast-tracking the planning and development process of the existing pipeline projects,” the documents said.

“The subject site on Tribune Street sits adjacent to one of Scape’s existing operating buildings in South Bank and is considered a key site to alleviating some of the housing supply pressing in Brisbane.

 “Of note, increasing student accommodation may assist in freeing up private rental accommodation currently being used by students.”

▲ Renders of Scape’s revised student accommodation tower plans for 41-47 Tribune Street, South Brisbane.

The influx of foreign students into Australia hit its highest level in a decade in the 12 months to June 30, with 520,911 student visas issued—115,000 above the previous peak.

In the first six months of this year, Queensland recorded a 41 per cent jump in international student numbers compared to the same period last year.

The additional 38,000 students arriving from overseas bumped up Queensland’s total to 94,308—a level on a par to pre-Covid numbers and surpassing the rate of increase in NSW and Victoria.

China accounted for 15,700 students.

At the corner of Colchester and Tribune streets, Scape’s tower proposal would provide the missing piece to a student accommodation precinct spanning an entire block.

The redesigned scheme by Plus Architecture is capped by a rooftop terrace with communal outdoor space, a yoga lawn and deck.

As well, it provides additional retail spaces at street level and an extra lift.

“The proposal represents an urban renewal project which will be located within a developing ‘student accommodation precinct’, completing the remaining underdeveloped site in this precinct,” the planning report said.

“[It] draws on the site’s proximity to nearby Queensland University of Technology and South Bank TAFE campuses and provides an alternative for students looking to live off-campus.

“The proposed development will invigorate the existing student precinct by placing an additional 524 students at the South Bank TAFE door step, reinforcing the centre as the social and economic heart of the inner South Brisbane.”


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