Construction has begun on a controversial 150-bed student housing scheme close to retirement homes at the back of Chester Fire Station.
A sign at the Trafford Street site in Newtown says the studio flats are being marketed as an investment from £71,500 per unit with the first phase already ‘sold and let’.
But the Northgate Studios project is contentious after a planning inspector once again rode roughshod over community opposition by allowing a scheme next to a retirement village and in a neighbourhood already targeted with hundreds of student beds.
Cheshire West and Chester Council ’s planning committee had unanimously rejected the planning application on the site of the former Oakbase House, which has now been demolished.
But developers Primus Alliance Chester, who recently opened their 121-bed Northgate Point scheme across the road, won on appeal with no public hearing.
Planning inspector Paul Singleton didn’t even get the name of the community correct by constantly referring to the area throughout his report as ‘ Newton ’ instead of ‘Newtown’.
Residents are concerned a unanimously rejected eight-storey 376-bed complex on the site of the railway station car park next to Hoole bridge will succeed if appealed. And Watkin Jones recently unveiled plans for a 350-bed student accommodation scheme in place of the Stagecoach bus depot in Liverpool Road alongside its existing 128-bed Victoria Road student complex.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is also considering whether to sell off surplus land to the rear of the St Anne Street fire station for student accommodation and operate from a smaller station at the front of the site.
In addition, the 400-bed Tramways complex by Chester Railway Station is already up and running as are smaller student schemes in George Street (85 beds), Delamere Street (160 beds) and Upper Northgate Street (117 beds).
If all the plans go-ahead then around 1,900 student beds will have been delivered in a small area in a few short years. Residents fear ‘noise, mess, impact on sleep and studentification’ plus exacerbated parking problems.
Other student complexes allowed on appeal against the decision of the council include the Tower Wharf 350-bed scheme by Telford’s Warehouse, a 77-bed managed complex on Hunter Street car park in the city centre and a 121-bed scheme close to Fountains roundabout later reduced to 117 beds.