‘We lack a coherent plan’: Concern over the number of student flats being built in York
Plans for another large student block in York have raised concerns about how much of this type of development should be allowed.
Councillors were debating the impact that an increasing number of student accommodation blocks are having on areas of the city as they considered an application for a 319-bed block in James Street.
S Harrison Developments submitted the plan, which proposed a building of up to five-storeys, with communal space, a games area, gym, a cinema room and study rooms on the ground floor.
Several councillors were at pains to point out that they valued the contribution students made to the city, but were concerned particularly about the volume of student accommodation around James Street.
Osbaldwick and Derwent ward councillor Martin Rowley said almost 3,000 student rooms had been approved within a 400 metre radius of the site over the last eight years.
Coun Rowley, who has a business in the area, said he was not a NIMBY.
He said: “This is about not wanting to create isolated student accommodation that’s not integrated with the residential homes and businesses.”
He called on members of the planning committee to reject the application on the grounds of overdevelopment.
Gavin Douglas, for the developer, said the development was close to both universities and would make use of eco-friendly air source heat pumps.
‘I am not happy’
Guildhall ward councillor Janet Looker said: “Emotionally I am not happy with this – I don’t think it’s a very attractive development. I have very significant concerns about the amount of student accommodation there is in what is a very small area.
“What we lack is a coherent plan for hope to manage the city centre’s spaces.”
Other areas of the city had neighbourhood plans which allowed for better design, Coun Looker said.
She added: “We [in the city centre] just take each application as it comes and live or die with the consequences.”
Hull Road ward councillor Michael Pavlovic said: “If we continue just to build piecemeal it will almost in the blink of an eye – and we won’t see until it’s happened – we’ll walk into York and it will be a different place to the one that we recall.”
He added: “I think this is an overdevelopment for this site.”
Councillors also said the developers should have set the building back from the road to allow for more green space in front of it.
They voted to refuse the scheme.
Alton Cars, who currently occupy the site, would have moved to other premises under the proposals.