CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a 350-bedroom student hall has been turned down.
People in the public gallery at council HQ in Chester applauded when the councillors threw out the plans – by eight votes to one – to build the large development on land behind Telford’s Warehouse, Raymond Street, in the Garden Quarter, despite council officers recommending approval.
A number of concerns were raised at the meeting by residents and councillors including the impact of the large development on the local community, potential parking issues and the loss of commercial land.
Cllr Angela Claydon, who moved for refusal on the grounds of impacts on local amenities and the local community, loss of commercial land and impact on the historic character of the neighbourhood, said she could not support the development on the brownfield site.
She said: “What I am most concerned about is the loss of employment land. If we lose our employment land then in five years we won’t have any land on which to build offices when there may be demand.
“We can’t just build anything on there because it is empty, we need to have some sort of strategy in place.”
The site already has planning permission for offices but developers, Miller Developments Ltd, said there was no demand for offices on the site and therefore put this development forward.
Andrew Sutherland, Miller Developments joint managing director, said the proposal was worked on in conjunction with the University of Chester which is looking for 3,000 extra student spaces by 2016 and which would manage the flats.
Mr Sutherland also said the flats would draw students out of “poor quality” HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy) in the area so they could be turned back into family homes.
However councillors were also worried about the lack of car parking spaces proposed within the plan with only 43 proposed for the 350 students. Highways officer Paul Parry said students would be discouraged from bringing cars to university but conceded that there would be no legal basis for the university to stop students having a car and parking it on the nearby, unrestricted roads.
Cllr Alan McKie said: “Having two grandsons at university in Leeds with two cars it does not always stack up that students go without cars. I think it would overwhelm the area beyond our recognition.”
Speaking as a visiting member, ward councillor Bob Rudd said he had not found anyone who was in favour of the development. He said: “All were against the development and a large number - I think it’s 130 - have sent in their objections.”