Residents will be incensed to learn the developer behind an eight storey 376-bed student block is appealing the council’s clear rejection of the scheme.
Earlier this year Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) planning committee ignored their own officer’s recommendation in unanimously refusing the application earmarked for a railway station car park in Hoole Way, Newtown .
A CWaC spokesperson this week confirmed the planning department was aware an appeal has been sent to the Planning Inspectorate but had not yet been officially validated.
The signs don’t look good for opponents as a number of student accommodation schemes refused by CWaC have subsequently been overturned on appeal including a nearby 150-bed student housing scheme in Trafford Street, Newtown, at the back of Chester Fire Station, which is now under construction.
At the April planning committee, Ben Roberts, speaking for developers Jansons Property, argued the proposal represented a £30m high quality building at an important gateway, ‘with cutting-edge facilities’, that would help the University of Chester meet the demand for an extra 2,500 students and attract the ‘best’.
But residents’ representative Lisa Miller told the committee: “We believe the current proposals are not in the interests of the local community. Newtown and Black Diamond Park are small enclosed residential areas.
“This proposed development, with its disproportionate size, its overshadowing of front line properties, its inevitable noise, mess, impact on sleep and studentification of the area, would irrevocably affect our quality of life.”
Council leader and ward member Cllr Samantha Dixon (Lab, Chester City) said the building was ‘not’ a landmark building but an ‘excellent example’ of ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’.
And she rubbished the effectiveness of student management plans, of the kind suggested as a planning condition, with the stated aim of controlling anti-social behaviour.
To applause, Cllr Dixon concluded: “We are heading further and further away from a mixed, balanced and sustainable community that’s at the heart of our policy. We are exposed to a market-led free for all where the needs of the wider city centre community – for a diverse mix of housing – is being superceded by the commercial opportunities of developers.”
Jansons Property has so far not commented on its decision to lodge an appeal.
If all current plans go-ahead then around 1,900 student beds will have been delivered in a small area in a few short years. Residents generally 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.