Norwich city councillors rejected a proposal for a block of new flats in the city centre which would have been used as housing for over three hundred students.
The planned building complex, called St. Catherine’s Yard, was rejected after nearby residents expressed concerns about noise pollution and over development of the area.
The building intended to provide 307 student beds across 285 purpose built flats.
However some residents of Surrey Street – where St. Catherine’s Yard was going to be built – were worried the building would ‘overshadow’ their homes. Other residents noted the proposal went against Norwich City Council’s existing plans for development of the site, which is allocated for office spaces with some residential development.
Speaking at a council committee meeting last month, one concerned resident said: “The proposed development will increase noise and in particular the roof terraces will result in noise, disturbance and overlooking to Carlton Terrace.”
Another resident claimed: “The proposal will also result in a destabilisation of the community due to ‘studentification’.” According to Norwich City Council, there are currently over 2000 ‘units’ of purpose built student accommodation “either under construction or the subject of current planning.”
However the applicant for St. Catherine’s Yard claimed that in 2018 there will be almost 17,000 students in Norwich in need of accommodation.
The applicant said: “UEA has around 5,000 bedrooms and the NUA has around 345. When combining the existing provision with schemes that are currently under construction this equates to around 6,750 bed spaces, which is significantly below the student numbers of 17,000 which need accommodation.”
City councillors eventually voted by eight to two, with two abstentions, to reject the flats on grounds of the building’s height and a lack of respect for the area and its neighbours.
A spokesperson for UEA expressed support for more large- scale, private accommodation developments for students in Norwich. They said: “These developments provide welcome additional capacity and choice for all of Norwich’s universities’ students and they also serve to breathe new life into key city-centre sites that have been economically redundant for some years.”
SU Welfare Community and Diversity Officer India Edwards said: “It’s obvious that both the campus and the city need new bedspaces to cope [with rising student numbers],” but she cautioned against the university partnering with the private sector.
She explained: “There are real questions- like the quality of pastoral care, rent levels, services like security and cleaning, how complaints will be handled and how easy it is to get deposits back.
“It’s crucial that before the University allocates freshers to a private company, it consults with students about these issues and gives us guarantees about parity of treatment across its accommodation portfolio.”
Ms. Edwards said the SU will be calling for “proper” student facilities in the City, which they hope “can ease pressure on transport routes and campus facilities.”