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Meet the neighbours: the realities of students and locals living side by side

With students now making up a fifth of Nottingham’s total population, according to the Complete University Guide, it might be easy to forget that it’s home to other people too. Ever wondered what it’s like for the local Nottingham residents who live next to students on a daily basis? Impact spoke to five residents, who shared with us the positive and negative sides of Lenton life.

Lenton might be considered the main student population hub, but it’s not always been that way, as there has been a major transformation in the last twenty years. Mr Dayne has lived in Lenton for 23 years and remarked that students appeared pretty much overnight: “There weren’t students on either side of us when we moved in but obviously in the last ten or so years it has changed dramatically”.

Students haven’t just been moving into the area, residents have also been moving out. Ms Yuill, 92, tells Impact: “It’s completely changed. It was all young families before”. She refers to the school closures in 2007 and 2008 implemented as the city council had 5,000 spare school slots: “There wasn’t enough school aged children. It’s mostly students now”.

For the locals who remain, their main complaint is the noise that students can make, especially at night. Mr Selmy*, 37, has three young children and admits that student parties can make his life more difficult. “Once they get to sleep it’s pretty much fine. It’s the lack of sleep for the parents which is the bigger issue!

“When I went round to ask if they’d turn the music down and they said: ‘Well, what do you expect? You’re living a student area.’ That’s not the best really.”

“It’s changed dramatically”.

Some residents feel far more bothered about students’ presence in Lenton. “You want to know about students? I hate them!” Mr Ashford* tells Impact. “Bloody students. They’re up at four o’clock in the morning having parties, do I look like someone who’s up at four o’clock in the morning having parties?”

In some cases, previous tenants can make such a bad impression that resentment remains even once they’ve moved out. Becky*, a second year Sociology student tells Impact: “Our neighbour had a vendetta against the house. She had called the police out on its previous inhabitants countless times so we warned her before our first party.

“We found out the next day that she had called the police in anticipation of the party – before we had made any noise at all!”

 However, some residents don’t mind occasional disturbances. Ms Patel*, 32, mentions: “At the weekends and when there’s parties it can get pretty loud and noisy, but overall it’s not that bad”. Ms Yuill admits her bad hearing helps with the problem: “They might have the occasional party or something like that, but I don’t usually notice!”

“We’ve got rats and everything round here ‘cos of those bloody students”.

Ella Funge, third year English student and neighbour to a non-student family, admits she feels a bit guilty about the noise from her house: “I do feel bad when I remember they’re there and that we’ve been playing loud music. We’ve not had a confrontation with them, but I still feel bad”.

There are some areas of Lenton that are not completely dominated by students and it’s here where relations between non-students and students can be even worse. Tony Green*, a Nottingham University student who lives near Canning Circus, remarks that the only real interaction he’s had with his neighbours was when he held a house party and got 25 noise complaints for it.

“Residents in the Park are definitely not used to any kind of noise from students which is probably why they made such a fuss. I don’t think it would have been as much of a problem if we lived further in Lenton”.

“Our neighbour had a vendetta against the house”.

 It’s not just noise which causes problems. Mr Ashford believes that the amount of rubbish left by students on the streets is getting out of control. “They can’t even take the bloody bins in. You should have seen it a couple of months ago. The bins are always full of rubbish. We’ve got rats and everything round here because of students”.

 Ms Patel also mentions that rubbish is a really big problem: “There’s always a lot of litter and they leave over-filled bins, which is a big problem as sometimes foxes and cats come in,” she explains.

“It can make it quite messy and not very nice. I’ve also got to be careful when I drive because there’s always a load of broken bottles about”.

“She had called the police in anticipation of the party”.

Ms Yuill, though, admits that the amount of rubbish is an inevitable part of living in large groups: “If there’s four or five of you, you’re going to have to have more rubbish. That’s fair enough.”

Despite all the noise and rubbish, the majority of residents that we spoke to agreed that they didn’t have a problem with living in a student area. In fact, it even has its advantages. Ms Yuill tells us that it can be quite helpful at times: “Anything I can’t do, I take next door. Taking the tops off jars and that sort of thing”.

Mr Dayne reflects that living in a student area really doesn’t bother him: “We’re tolerant of the students and they’re tolerant of our sort of shambolic existence, living in a student area is of no concern to us honestly”.

 Mrs Yuill agrees: “It’s odd how people don’t like young people… everyone, including me, has been one!”

 Charlotte McIntyre

Additional reporting by Emily Shackleton and Will Hazell

Image credit: Ben Tynegate

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