Jansons Property is seeking consent at next Tuesday’s (April 4) planning committee for an eight-storey 376-bed complex on the site of the railway station car park next to Hoole bridge.
Planning officer Lyndsay Shinner recommends members approve the project.
But Cllr Dixon, as the local member representing Chester City Ward, has called-in the application for a committee decision because of concerns over its ‘significant size and impact’ which she feels ‘pushes the boundary of acceptability’.
She suggested it would ‘adversely impact on the health and quality of life’ of residents and ‘does not support a mixed balanced and sustainable community’. Nine car parking spaces, including three disabled, was ‘insufficient’.
Raising issues around Hoole bridge, Cllr Dixon added: “Given the proposed accommodation is supposed to be encouraging cycle use and given the route to the university’s Kingsway campus will involve journeys over the bridge, I would have expected to see considerable thought to have gone into this aspect of travel.
“There have been fatalities on this bridge in recent times. It is very worrying to me that the consultants appear to be proposing shared use pavements for pedestrians and cyclists. There is considerable conflict between cyclists and pedestrians on the bridge now. This will make things much worse.”
Borough councillors appear concerned a ‘tipping point’ has been reached regarding student accommodation as evidenced by the planning committee’s unanimous decision in December to reject a 150-bed student housing scheme next to Chester Fire Station by developers who last year opened a 121-bed scheme at the former Newtown Bakery site.
Since then, Cheshire Fire Authority has struck a deal with developer Watkin Jones to replace the fire station with a smaller facility and sell the surplus land for student accommodation.
Chester Civic Trust has raised concerns about the ‘excessive height and bulk’ of the latest student scheme, arguing it would impact on views towards the city and on neighbouring residential properties.
But West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce advocates the economic benefits of the scheme.
Planning officer Ms Shinner said the site was currently allocated for employment use but had been marketed for 12 years without success.
She wrote in her report: “Houses in multiple occupation are stated as leading to specific anti-social problems and that in areas of high concentration, mixed communities are not being sustained. The Development Plan seeks to readdress this balance by supporting purpose built managed accommodation which would have the benefit of supporting the university and would reduce demand for houses in multiple occupation."
She said the site was well-located in relation to various transport modes and services in Brook Street, Hoole and the city centre.
“Given the distance between this site and the Newtown Bakery site there is no evidence to suggest that the proposal would lead to a community imbalance,” she concluded.