A developer behind student accommodation plans near Chester city centre argues the scheme has the support of hundreds of residents and dozens of businesses.
Jansons Property hopes councillors on Cheshire West and Chester Council ’s planning committee will today (April 4) back its plans for an eight storey 376-bed student building in Hoole Way, Newtown , near Chester Railway Station .
If given the go-ahead, the block would be called Thomas Brassey Halls – after the 19th century Chester-born railway pioneer who built the train station and laid one in 20 miles of railway around the world.
The developer says its petition has received support from more than 400 Chester residents and 72 Chester businesses, including 35 from nearby Brook Street. It also has the backing of the North Wales and Chester Chamber of Commerce and Chester Growth Partnership.
However, some have questioned the validity of the petition, claiming many signatories are students or not from the area.
Chris Maltby, owner of well known Brook Street-based carpet shop, Maltby’s of Chester, said in a press release issued by Jansons: “Student spending is really important to Brook Street businesses. Hoole Way is a great location for this sort of scheme as it will increase footfall and help Brook Street thrive as a place that people will want to visit.
“The university is growing so quickly and we want our business and our neighbouring businesses to capture some of the spending this brings into the local economy.”
Ben Roberts, from Jansons Property, said: “ Chester University has plans to increase student numbers by around 2,500 by 2020. More students are coming to Chester and the city needs to plan for where they will all live.
"Purpose-built accommodation is the best answer, providing a secure and managed environment and protecting traditional communities from the spread of houses of multiple occupancy.
“Thomas Brassey Halls will be comfortable and safe with amazing facilities including a cinema and a gym, helping the university to achieve its ambitions to attract the best and the brightest.”
But neighbouring resident Caroline Dobson, of Black Diamond Street, Chester, said: “I have been looking at the petitions in ‘support’ of this monstrous building project.
“I notice that a couple of hundred of the signatories are actually current students at the University Of Chester! Of course they will sign a petition for more student housing.
“Many of the signatories are not residents of Chester (Ruabon and Stoke-On-Trent to name but two) and still more signatures are in the same handwriting or have vague postcodes/addresses. Petitions should have a name and address at the very least to be valid.
“Petitions are not normally taken into consideration by many organisations as most people will sign any old petition that is held in front of them. Individual responses are usually the preferred method as more effort and thought has gone into them, so they are seen as more reliable.
“The developers are really scraping the barrel here. They are using desperation methods to try and get this application passed as they know that so many are against it. Let’s hope the council planning department do not have the wool pulled over their eyes.”
The scheme is recommended for approval by CWaC’s planning department but ward member and council leader Cllr Samantha Dixon says the plan ‘does not support a mixed balanced and sustainable community’.