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Huge Newtown student housing scheme given green light on appeal

Community and council's planning committee were against the development

An artist's impression of what the 376-bed student housing scheme on Hoole Way will look like

Another student housing scheme has been allowed on appeal in another blow for local democracy.

Last year Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) planning committee members ignored their own officer’s recommendation in unanimously refusing the application for an eight storey 376-bed complex on a railway station car park in Hoole Way, Newtown.

But PJ Properties (Chester) Ltd can now build the project after planning inspector Andrew McGlone gave the go-ahead following an appeal hearing in December. He has also ordered CWaC must pay the company’s appeal costs.

Planning committee member Cllr Jill Houlbrook (Con, Upton) told Mr McGlone the massive student housing scheme would ‘stick out like a sore thumb’ but he disagreed.

The site, near Hoole bridge, of the accommodation scheme

He also dismissed issues around the impact of the tall block on the living conditions of neighbours, especially residents of Black Diamond Park with respect to loss of light, privacy and disturbance. And he made reference to an office scheme previously granted permission on the same site but never developed.

He wrote: “In my judgement, even though the proposed building would be next to low-rise residential properties, it would be in keeping with the character and appearance of the area which has a blend of different scaled development, due to its design, height, mass and scale. I do not consider that the building would be incongruous and dominant.”

Mr McGlone said the appeal scheme would, at its closest point, be roughly 18 metres from the front elevations of neighbouring properties.

“This distance would be the same as the approved office scheme. The proposed building would however be taller and of a different form. Notwithstanding this, there would be a notable difference,” he said.

“As a result, it would not have an overbearing effect due to the proximity of the building to the nearby residential occupants. Moreover, a greater amount of daylight would be able to reach rooms in the front elevations of Nos 1 to 5 and 140 to 144. The proposed layout would also provide future occupants of the building with views into the open amenity space and the parking area.”

Inspector Andrew McGlone has been listening to evidence both for and against a 376-bed scheme by PJ Properties (Chester) Ltd at Northgate Arena, in the shadow of an under-construction 150-bed student housing scheme allowed on appeal in a separate case.

The inspector said he had heard anecdotally about noise issues associated with existing student blocks in Chester but ‘no substantive evidence’. He noted a suggested condition included a provision to manage waste disposal and noise.

Mr McGlone said ‘considerable concern’ was expressed by residents about the pressure for parking spaces in the area and there was no disagreement on this matter yet again ‘there is no substantive evidence to support the claims made’.

Other student complexes allowed on appeal against the decision of elected members include the Tower Wharf 350-bed scheme by Telford’s Warehouse, a 150-bed scheme at Oak House next to Chester Fire Station, 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.

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