Controversial plans for a block of students flats have been put on pause – after councillors on the planning committee raised concerns that people would be crammed into “teeny tiny rooms”.
The plans for 86 flats to be built in Fawcett Street on the former Plumbase site were deferred by councillors, who asked if planning officers could go back into discussions with the developer to resolve some of their worries.
Each room is just over 30sqm, but officers say the plans show the flats are a “reasonable size”.
There is a kitchen inside each room and the development was described by planning officers as being similar to an aparthotel.
Cllr Katie Lomas said: “We need to keep an eye on this just for the welfare of people in our city being cramped into these teeny tiny rooms in order to live their lives. It’s not an aparthotel. This is their residence.”
Cllr Pete Kilbane said: “This looks like a student battery farm.” Cllr Mark Warters described the scheme as being “like rabbit hutches”.
‘Not sufficient quality’
Councillors also raised concerns about the loss of business land, traffic to and from the site, a lack of communal areas and open space.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne said: “I think there are a number of grounds as to why this is not of sufficient quality for us to approve.
“There’s a question about whether the market really justifies this sort of development going forward given that not only a few months ago work started on Frederick House which is a 300 bed accommodation for students within three miles of this.”
But the developer said there is demand for student accommodation.
Cllr Stephen Fenton said he does not object to student flats at the site, but added: “The issue really is the nature of the accommodation.
“The conservation area advisory panel make the very valid point that in their opinion the configuration of the accommodation would not be conducive to the mental health of the occupants.”
Cllr Chris Cullwick proposed that the plans be deferred for further work, saying: “Quite a number of us have misgivings but struggle to find a planning reason to refuse this. There are a number of things that do cause me concern about this.”