CITY COUNCIL GIVES PLANNING PERMISSION FOR THREE NEW STUDENT DEVELOPMENTS
Kit Sanderman, reporting in the Nottingham Post on Tuesday 19 December 2017, wrote:
... Hundreds more student homes will be built on the city after planning permission was approved for three major new developments.
Three individual plans, all of which was submitted by different applicants and are not connected, will see the new student accommodation built close to the city centre.
What is currently the Christian Centre, at 75-78 Talbot Street, will house 330 student flats, while 66 flats will be built on land next to Canal Street, and a five storey building will be built on a site in Derby Road.
The building at the Christian Centre is the largest, made up of nine storeys, and will be accessible from both Talbot Street and Wollaton Street. It will feature a large central courtyard with space for 330 student bedrooms.
Planning permission for the development was sought by Franklin Ellis Architects on behalf of a proposal by developer Redoak.
The site is also occupied by a former car show room, and a former schoolhouse, both of which are empty and both will be demolished to make way for the new building. A large wall in Wollaton Street will also be demolished, but the design of the new building is intended to reflect the characteristics of the old retaining wall.
However, concerns were raised at today’s (Wednesday 20 December) planning meeting about the number of student houses being built in the city.
Councillor Malcolm Wood, who represents Bilborough Ward for Labour, said: “I have to question whether it’s wise to have so much student accommodation in the city centre, particularly when it is expected that student numbers will fall in the future with changes in population.
”These places can be absolutely deserted in vacation time, and I think that can reflect very badly on a go-ahead city like Nottingham.
”I would like to know whether these are convertible to other forms of accommodation, because I think if there is a change in the market then we will have large, vacant properties in the city, which could be disastrous.”
Councillor Wood was, however, assured by planning officers who said that there is a very low vacancy rate for student accommodation in the city, which indicated that demand was still high.
The second development, by Bricross Developments, will see three building with rooms for another 66 students built on land off Castle Boulevard. The narrow strip of land, opposite National Tyres, means the building will back onto the canal, with the walls of the buildings going directly into the water.
Nearby residents raised concerns with the council about the potential impact of antisocial behaviour, air pollution, and an impact on property value.
Concerns were also raised by the council’s biodiversity officer. The flats are to be built on land which is currently scrubland, and is used by a host of wildlife species, so a condition that bat boxes be installed, and that a Japanese knot weed specialist be brought in to remove the plant - which has now been completed.
The third development will be built on the site of a former restaurant at 100-104 Derby Road. This would be demolished to make for the new building, which would back onto Wollaton Street. The application was submitted by GraceMachin Planning & Property on behalf of Mr K Tang.
It will be built within a conservation area, and the adjacent building which was formerly the Baker and Plum department store, is Grade II listed.
The new building will be five stories, with a retail unit on the ground floor and student accommodation above.
Concerns were raised about the character of the new five-storey building, and planners were asked to work with applicants to improve the aesthetic of the building.
The ground floor of the building will house retail units, but the exact number of flats in the building has not yet been finalised.
Property expert Tim Garratt, who is the managing director of Innes England, based at the NG2 business park, said there was increasing demand for top-end student flats in Nottingham.
He said: “The market is definitely shifting, so the quality of student accommodation is improving, which most people regard as a good thing.
“A lot of students are moving away from the traditional shared rooms in Victorian houses, and in part that’s a deliberate effort - in Lenton for example we have active policies against multiple occupancy houses, so we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised.
“In terms of whether the city needs it, the market sort of dictates that, so if they’re being built that’s because the market is there.”