CITY COUNCIL PLANNING COMMITTEE APPROVE 'ANOTHER LEGO BUILDING' 13-STOREY STUDENT-ACCOMMODATION BLOCK
On Wednesday 18 August 2021, Joseph Locker, Nottingham Post Digital News Correspondent, reported that Nottingham City Council's Planning Committee, despite having reservations about the architecture of the proposed building, have approved a 13-storey tower block on Bath Street to provide 692 student bed spaces.
Plan to replace Bendigo building with 'uninspiring' 13-storey block of flats reluctantly approved
'It seems a terrible shame to allow something this dominating'
Councillors have "reluctantly" approved a scheme for a huge 13-storey tower block for the ever-growing student population in Nottingham.
The decision concerned the Bendigo building in Bath Street and councillors came to the resolution to approve the scheme during a Nottingham City Council planning committee meeting on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 18.
The former Royal Mail sorting office, which has stood vacant for 20 years, will have to be demolished to make way for 692 beds.
Councillor Graham Chapman, the vice-chairman of the planning committee, said the approval of a separate application for the site from 2008 meant councillors were having to make a decision from within a "straight-jacket".
Following an appeal, plans for a nine to fourteen-storey block with 244 apartments was approved on October 14, 2008, but the permission expired before it was implemented.
The current proposals, put forward by Godwin Developments, are very much similar in that to the structure which was approved years prior, meaning councillors had little sway in opposing it.
Nonetheless, they argued the current architectural style of the development - shown via CGI images during the meeting - was "uninspiring".
Councillor Sally Longford, the deputy leader of the council, said: "I'm really quite unhappy about this I think it is really not a very attractive design and I am noting going to quibble about the student policy, because it is our policy, to have purpose-built student accommodation in the city and it is on the edge of the city centre no doubt about that.
"But it is very large, and I understand the problems of having a previously approved on appeal scheme which is on a similar scale which means we cannot really question the heart of it but I feel really peeved about that because I don't like it.
"I think the architecture to say the least is uninspiring. I just think we should be pushing for a better quality of design. We have to have this huge bulk overlooking one of our special green spaces, particularly one which is soon to have in that space one of the National Trust's sponsored memorial blossoming tree features.
"It seems a terrible shame to allow something this dominating."
Councillor Dave Liversidge, who represents St Ann's, argued the development would "change the whole ethos of the area".
He added: "The Bendigo building is in the fifth most-deprived area in the city and the new building is going to overlook St Mary's Rest Garden which is one of the few green spaces in the city, it is going to actually change the feel of it and provide a park that is overshadowed and not as welcoming.
"The building design is of poor design. It is another one of monolithic nature and does not reflect the historic nature of the conservation area at all."
Councillor Wendy Smith, who represents Bilborough, said while the computer imagery looks as if it was "a series of boxes with windows", she hopes the final build would look more appealing in person.
Concerns have before been raised by residents in the area, including a group of protesters who argued the building would overshadow St Mary's Rest Garden.
However, it was emphasised during the meeting the rest garden would only marginally be impacted by the shadow from the development during the summer months, with the more significant impact occurring mid-winter.
It was considered the impact on the rest garden was "acceptable".
Godwin Developments says the scheme will consist of a mix of modern studio apartments, four, five and six-bedroom clusters and accessible studio rooms.
It will also incorporate a range of indoor amenities such as two receptions, a spacious residents lounge, gym, study and games rooms, as well as a fully landscaped courtyard garden with outdoor seating, recreational and outdoor exercise equipment, six-car parking and 312 cycle storage spaces.
Two commercial units, located on the ground floor, will also provide an additional amenity for residents and the neighbouring community.
Councillor Kevin Clarke, the leader of the Nottingham Independents who represents the Clifton East ward:, heavily objected to the plans and said: "I find it difficult to support this application today.
"To me, it just looks like another one of our Lego buildings which lacks any quality and all flavour."
However, following a vote, it was delegated to officers "subject to further improvements around the appearance and brickwork and detailing, and crafting and quality of the building" following concerns over such aspects of the development.
Matt Chandler, development director at Godwin Developments, added: “We are delighted to have received the resolution to grant planning approval from Nottingham City Council for our proposals, which will transform this eye-sore of a building into a thriving student hub.
“With unmet demand of over 7,000 student beds in the city and the number of undergraduates rising as both universities continue their expansion plans, there is a clear requirement for more dedicated student spaces where young people can live, study, and socialise together.
"Our plans will not only cater to this demand but also support the council’s ambitions to keep the city centre vibrant, house students better, and protect further traditional family housing from being converted for student occupation."