ACTION must be taken to address the growing problem of 'studentification' across Winchester, councillors say.

City councillors called for the council to properly plan for the expected increase in student numbers from 7,000 to 10,000 by 2025.

The council heard that student housing is now becoming a problem in Weeke and Fulflood as well as reported problems in Stanmore and Winnall.

In recent months there have been several application by private developers for large students blocks. One on Sparkford Road, West Hill, by the main campus, was approved, the other on Greenhill Road, Fulflood, was turned down.

A Liberal Democrat notice of motion proposed stronger planning policy to get a grip on the issue.

One councillor Nicki Elks spoke of how a resident, a former serviceman with post-traumatic stress disorder, had confronted noisy students partying at 3am. "He lost his temper, banged on their door and told them to shut up.

"Unfortunately they called the police. He is feeling vulnerable. We need to protect our residents."

Cllr Jamie Scott, whose ward Stanmore has many houses let to students, said: "The issue began in the 1990s when it was King Alfred's College. What were the strategic planners doing to allow that to happen?

"It was 'anything goes'. Right to buy was supposed to be for families, not to house students on those estates."

Cllr Martin Tod said studentification was happening in Fulflood and Weeke: "We do need a policy response to this situation. We were too late to the party with article 4 (which places greater planning control on HMOs). We need to make sure we don't make the same mistake again and allow it to drift on again."

He called for discussions with Winchester University, the School of Art and Sparsholt College to discuss their ambitions for the future.

Senior Tory councillor Guy Ashton interjected to say: "Students are residents; they are not something else."

Cllr Eileen Berry said the problem was "seeping into Weeke. There's a fear the students are taking over the city."

The 10,000 figure has been in the public domain for several years with university vice-chancellor Joy Carter saying she did not think the city would notice.

Lib Dem group leader Lucille Thompson said: "We have seen an increasing number of speculative planning applications coming forward for large units of student housing in inappropriate locations.

"The university wishes to expand by 3,000. Where will the students live? What will be the impact on residents?"

Cllr Thompson added that recent student flats were high-spec and aimed at overseas students, "the opposite of what the university wants to see, reasonably-priced accommodation which all can afford.

"We don't oppose university expansion but it has to be done in a way that is sympathetic to local communities," said Cllr Thompson.

The notice of motion calling for a working group to develop planning guidance was not voted on but referred to the local plan committee.

Cllr Ian Tait said the "mothballed" Berkeley Homes site at the former police headquarters on Romsey Road would be an ideal place for student housing.

Southampton University recently bought the police station on North Walls, next to the School of Art. A spokesman said there were no plans at the moment to develop it.