Developers are consulting on early-stage plans for an 80-bed student complex to the rear of city centre residents already concerned about ‘studentification’.
Watkin Jones and Liberty Properties want to build a managed accommodation block on a temporary car park off Hunter Street at the back of historic properties in King Street.
A consultation event has been taking place at the Crowne Plaza hotel (August 25 and 26) ahead of a formal planning application being lodged with a view to the accommodation being available in September 2017.
King Street residents, who live in Georgian and Victorian properties, already feel vulnerable to an increase in the number of private sector landlords seeking student tenants.
This led Cheshire West and Chester Council to adopt a policy aimed at curbing the number of houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) in their neighbourhood.
And news about the Hunter Street proposal follows the announcement that construction will begin soon on a 550-bed student scheme on the nearby Linenhall car park.
But developers behind the latest scheme, which would front the St Martin’s Way ring road, argue the 80-bed complex will 'reduce pressure on the supply of private rented housing (typically uncontrolled, unmanaged housing in multiple occupation) in Chester”.
Serving both the University of Chester and the University of Law, it will comprise en suite studio bedrooms each equipped with kitchen, dining and living facilities. Studios are typically occupied by later year students, post-graduates and international students.
There would be a common room, laundrette, cycle parking and an office for on-site management. All students would sign a lease that commits them to acting in ‘proper and respectful manner’ otherwise they are asked to leave.
Watkin Jones has already built and operates, through its Fresh Student Living arm, a 128-bed student scheme in Victoria Road, Chester, and will soon unveil a 400-bed complex by Chester Railway Station.
This new building, which aims to avoid a monolithic appearance, is in a sensitive area being in the Chester City Conservation Area and it lies within the walls of the former Roman legionary fortress so there is the potential for deeply buried archaeological features.
Ward member Cllr Samantha Dixon, who is now council leader, previously backed King Street residents in supporting action aimed at protecting the character of their area. She said in March: “This particular area is right on the cusp of tipping from an area that’s ordinary residential into a typical student residential area so timing is very germane for this to happen now.”