Students living on Heslington East benefit from some of the newest accommodation on campus, but this comes at a price: the absence of shopping facilities. There are now three colleges on the site, housing nearly 2000 students, yet students have to commute to Heslington West to do basic shopping. Halifax College, with a student population of 970, has its own Nisa supermarket, despite being closer to Market Square than Heslington East. Proposals are currently underway for a shopping parade to be built on Kimberlow Lane, but at the moment the development’s future remains uncertain. There has been significant campaigning on the part of Heslington East based students in favour of the project, with the establishment of a Facebook group (Campaign #HesEast) and over 130 comments made on the council’s planning portal.
Although this is clearly an issue which many students feel strongly about, how much difference a convenience store would make to the campus can be questioned. The free bus service between Heslington East and Heslington West means that students living in Goodricke, Langwith or Constantine are only around five minutes away from the existing Nisa in Market Square. Moreover, the feasible size of the supermarket on Heslington East would not be large or well-stocked enough to support full weekly shops for most students, meaning that it would still be necessary to order online deliveries or take the bus to Monks Cross. The building of a small new Nisa store to service the students of Hes East would therefore not make the difference required to students.
What would be more useful for all University of York students, not just those living on Heslington East, would be if the university were to break Nisa’s monopoly on campus supermarkets and encourage competition. This could drive down prices, making a fairer deal for students by allowing them to shop around, as well as incentivising Heslington West students to visit Heslington East in order to go to the new supermarket. Students on both campuses are currently facing a trade off between convenience and cost, but the university has the opportunity to address these concerns through the proposed plans for the new shopping parade. Therefore, if the plans are approved by the council, the next pressing issue which students should turn their attention to is to which businesses the new outlets will be leased, as it is this which will have the most pressing impact on student life.