On 8 February, Students’ Association President Charlotte Andrew hosted a forum at Albany Park regarding the hall’s upcoming redevelopment. The event was attended by members of the Albany Park hall committee and residents who wanted to engage with someone who would listen to their requests for more affordable housing.
The Saint revealed in early February that many students who currently live in Albany Park were angered by the University’s proposed overhaul of the housing complex because it did not provide an increase in affordable housing options.
The Director of Residential and Business Services called Albany a “ghetto” and insisted that having more expensive accommodation would solve that problem.
Albany residents hoped the forum with Ms Andrew would allow their voice to be heard.
Senior Student Linsey Welshman, who briefly ran for Director of Wellbeing this year, told The Saint she was pleased with the results of the forum.
“I was really pleased with Charlotte. I think she responded to [the forum] really well,” she said. “It’s made me feel a bit more confident. Hopefully, more will come from that than has from senior students talking to them in the past. […] Everything we said to her she’s promised to take forward.”
Ms Andrew agreed that the forum was a success, saying, “I think it was very useful and it was very productive, and I wish we started [holding forums] earlier.”
Although she was enthusiastic about student input, Ms Andrew admitted that many details were still unknown because the University is in the early stages of planning.
She elaborated, saying, “We are at the very beginning of the design process, so it was very useful to go to the forum to get views and opinions, but equally, there were very few decisions I could pass on that had definitely been made by the [University …]. We had a lot of feedback as to what we do next.”
As a direct result of the discussion, Ms Andrew has started collecting personal stories from Albany residents to present to the “core group” in charge of the redevelopment.
She said of this effort, “I think that that will have more of an impact when they make decisions about prices. […] Hopefully, it will ensure that the realisation is there that there are students here that would not be able to come to St Andrews if they weren’t in Albany.”
Ms Andrew will also begin holding regular forums with Albany Park residents in order to garner continued input from those most affected by the redevelopment.
She and the Albany Park hall committee are in the process of planning
the next event.
Construction on Albany Park is scheduled to begin sometime in 2018 and expected to cost £70 million. The complex will experience at least partial closure during this time.