Planners have today (Tuesday, October 13) given the green light for an 18-bed student complex next to Telford's Warehouse in Chester.
Garden Quarter councillor Bob Rudd had called in the application, submitted by Yuehua Ma, of Queen Street, Chester, to convert the former Church of England offices, known as Diocesan House and Raymond House, into student accommodation.
But despite Cllr Rudd relaying his concerns about the effects that the complex would have on the Garden Quarter, including noise levels, a lack of car parking and management of recycling and refuse material, the proposals were approved at a meeting of Cheshire West and Chester Council's planning committee.
A planning representative addressed the concerns, suggesting that the fitting of secondary glazed windows would combat noise levels and pointed out that the communal areas in Raymond House would be separate from residential housing in the Garden Quarter.
She said students with cars would be allocated parking spaces and there would be allocated storage for 12 bicycles and there would be an enclosed waste and recycling area.
The location would be convenient and accessible for students and waste collectors, she said, with no structural changes proposed. The work is not expected to cause any significant or environmental disturbance, or overlook any residential properties, and care had been taken to remain sensitive to both historic buildings.
However, Cllr Rudd said he 'didn't care' what the applicant said; he felt there is already insufficient parking currently in the Garden Quarter, and the proposed extra parking spaces would only lead to further problems.
"The law allows anyone with a taxed vehicle to park on the highway, they will do that and they will leave their cars there for as long as they need and they won't be breaking the law," he said.
'Not happy' with approval
Cllr Rudd added that he was 'not surprised, nor am I happy' that the plans had been approved, and spoke of other concerns he had.
"(Re: noise) when students are this far from the university campus they'll walk to and from their accommodation and that's not the problem - it's when they walk back late at night that causes noise.
"And when there is inadequate storage for boxes and refuse bags - where is it all going to go? In the front garden?
"I sincerely hope whatever management plan is put in place does not make this area deteriorate like it has in other areas of the Garden Quarter because it is like a slum in some areas.
"I am fed up with walking around plastic bags and bins put out on the wrong day. It's not nice," he added.
Cllr Jill Houlbrook also expressed her doubts about the application, but the majority recommended it for approval.
It follows planning consent being granted on appeal earlier this year for a 350-bed new-build student scheme next to Telford’s despite strong local opposition.
Was this the right decision for Diocesan House and Raymond House? Let us have your comments in the box below.