Rapid progress is being made to build a 121-bed student housing complex next to Chester Fire Station in Newtown that will rise to six storeys.
Manchester-based Property Alliance Group (PAG) gained consent last summer to demolish a derelict bakery in Trafford Street then erect a two-block studio apartment scheme in its place, ready for an autumn 2016 opening.The building is controversial because of fears it will overshadow existing properties and that students may bring cars to the neighbourhood where on-street parking is already in short supply.
Resident Alex Bayliss told Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee in June that he was concerned about loss of light and privacy from the complex which he described as ‘not in keeping’.
He was also worried about the lack of car parking, citing the Chester Civic Trust as saying student housing should be capable of conversion into normal residential. Otherwise it could one day become ‘bedsit/sink accommodation’ if student demand failed to materialise, which was his fear given the luxury scheme may be too expensive.
Developer Duncan Melville said the scheme, known as Northgate Point, offered a ‘studio product’ within a quality design which would regenerate a derelict site benefiting the University of Chester as well as the city at large.
There would be specialist facility management ensuring student contracts were ‘strictly enforced’ with sanctions for anti-social behaviour, noise, parking and litter.
And the meeting heard students would be deterred from bringing cars to the area, with developers asked to contribute towards establishing a residents’ parking scheme which would be unavailable to students.
A statement released afterwards about the development, a joint venture between PAG and Primus Property Group, explained that Northgate Point was particularly aimed at post-graduate and overseas students who want 51 week letting periods and high quality accommodation.
Rooms were designed ‘to create a professional learning and study environment’, with self-contained kitchens, security, storage and high speed internet connections.
Another student scheme is also shooting up in Upper Northgate Street, next to the Fountains roundabout, by Chester-based student accommodation specialists Cityheart Ltd for 117 occupants, which aims to be ready by September 2016.