Chester’s councillors are being urged to support a petition calling for tougher government guidance on student accommodation applications.
A week after Cheshire West and Chester Council’ s (CWaC) planning committee gave the green light to plans for an 18-bed student block next to Telford’s Warehouse in the Garden Quarter, campaign group Chester Community Voice (CCV) have stepped up their drive to get government planning guidance that will include a strategic studentification policy that will protect areas from an influx of student homes.
Reg Barritt, CCV’s general secretary said it was an extremely important issue not just for Chester but for many other ‘town and gown’ areas in the UK and that their petition has already been signed by hundreds of Chester residents, in the hope it will eventually be presented to Parliament by city MP Chris Matheson.
Mr Barritt said: “Do our councillors really care? They bleat about their concerns where necessary to do no more than placate their constituents in defence of their vote, seemingly knowing the application will get passed anyway by other councillors, but they actually have done and still do nothing effective about the matter; a view confirmed by the way they actually behave at Planning, in general in council and regarding the way they actually interpret the Local Plan.”
He added: “We are not fooled but are more and more infuriated.
"It is time these councillors publicly acknowledged that all these permissions are the inevitable result of weak government legislation that ensures these unsound permissions are passed in favour of Higher Education expansion irrespective of impact on our communities and in conflict with many aims and objectives set out in the Local Plan we have agreed and they have adopted.
"Chance to back us"
Group chairman Avril Coady said: “If these councillors are genuinely concerned, which many of us currently doubt, about the imposition of these inappropriately located often oversized student accommodations in and around the city, this is their chance to back us and the MP in making representation to Parliament asking to have its studentification planning guidance reviewed and, we would hope, made sound.
“We are writing to each councillor individually offering them the chance to sign up to this responsible, and we hope, effective representation that we have worked so hard to prepare.”
CWaC’s Local Plan development committee are due to meet at HQ on October 26 at 6pm to discuss student issues.