A BID to build more than 120 student flats near the Fountains roundabout in Chester has been turned down.
Planning chiefs ruled the proposed accommodation blocks on Upper Northgate Street would be too big with one councillor comparing them to the notorious former Travelodge, which she said she wanted to ‘blow up’.
Developer William Fishwick and Son wanted to demolish buildings next to Northgate Church and build 121 student bedrooms but the application was refused when Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) planning committee met last night at HQ.
Cllr Bob Rudd, whose Garden Quarter ward includes the application site, said he was surprised when planning officers recommended the plans for approval.
He said there were too many students in the area already, leading to problems with parking, noise and anti-social behaviour.
“More than 55 per cent of the residents in the Garden Quarter are students and that is just too many,” he said.
Cllr Rudd said the flats would be ‘overbearing’ and the proposed 10 parking spaces were ‘totally inadequate’. He said: “If this application is approved, it will only add to the local residents’ misery and will drive out the remaining long-term residents from the area.
“We want family homes in the Garden Quarter, not student flats being built on every brownfield site that’s left.”
Resident John Mawer said the developers had failed to consult people living in neighbouring Lorne Street. “The development towers above the houses in Lorne Street. It is as big as the Travelodge.
Mr Mawer said the amount of parking spaces proposed was ‘ridiculous’ and added the area was already ‘blighted’ with noise and disturbance.
“The building is not sustainable and will have a negative impact on the community,” he said.
The site now houses a four-storey building with an Anglian Windows store and seven flats, along with a two-storey building with a workshop and two vacant flats.
Cllr Samantha Dixon, who represents the city centre, addressed the meeting on behalf of some of her elderly constituents.
She said there were problems with students ‘shouting, singing and foul language’ through the night.
“You could argue that noise is not coming from students but the fact is it does not happen in the summer holidays,” she said.
Cllr Dixon said the situation was getting worse, describing the noise as ‘off the scale’ during freshers’ week.
Planning officer Steve Lewis had recommended the plans for approval. He believed the proposal was a ‘sustainable development in a sustainable location’.
But planning committee members went against his advice and turned the plans down with five voting against and the rest abstaining.
Cllr Angela Claydon said the blocks were ‘far too big’.
“You have already got the Travelodge which I have already gone as record as saying I would blow up very happily,” she said.
Cllr David Anderson said he also had concerns over the scheme but feared the applicants could appeal to planning inspectors if the plans were refused and win, meaning the council would end up out of pocket.
Cllr Claydon said she would not allow that to influence her decision. “I still want to make what I believe to be the right decision and I’m not going to be swayed by the threat of the inspector,” she said.
Bell Developments had argued the application should not be considered until a decision had been reached on its controversial student village scheme.
But Mr Lewis rejected that argument and said each application had to be considered on its own merits.