Another city centre student flat development turned down by councillors

Despite revised plans by building developer SCY Student Accommodation Ltd, plans for the development of a block of 252 student flats have been rejected in a close margin by Norwich city councillors.

The developers had bid to build the new block of flats on the Sentinel House car park on Surrey Street, just a few hundred metres behind the Norwich Bus Station, but had their offer narrowly turned down by councillors who voted by six votes to seven to reject the development.

More than 50 members of the public had formally objected to the developer’s application, and there were reportedly cheers from the public gallery when Norwich City Council’s rejected what was the second application by the developers.

The developers are, however, still waiting on the results of an appeal against the council’s initial refusal of an application for 280 flats, which was rejected in December last year.

Revision to the initial application included reducing the size of the building and the number of flats within it. These revisions were recommended for approval by council officers, but were voted down after objections came from five different neighbours, who were worried about the impacts students might have on the area.

Speaking to Norwich Evening News, resident Allison Hickey said “The small alterations […] will make no difference at all. I fail to see where previous concerns have been addressed. All we will be able to see when we look out is beer bottles in windows.

“I also do not see how filling the city centre with students will help reduce the problem of drug taking in the city.”

Other residents complained that the new development would lead to a loss of sunlight, which could be detrimental to the mental health of those already living in the area.

UEASU Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer India Edwards said it’s unfortunate students are still held to outdated stereotypes surrounding drinking and drug taking. She told Concrete “Students are really valuable members of the local community and it’s a shame that we are still competing against some of these outdated stereotypes of students.

“The development of programmes like our “Good Neighbour Scheme” and looking to increase more opportunities to volunteer in the community, we hope will combat this and, with the support from the Council, that more local residents will start to see how much students contribute to Norwich’s community and culture.”

Councillors ultimately turned away the rejection of the new building on the basis that it would have a ‘detrimental impact’ on the existing residents of Carlton Terrace. Yet, if the appeal goes ahead, then the development will receive full planning permission for its original 280 flat design.

A spokesperson for the university said UEA believes these developments provide welcome additional capacity and choice for Norwich university students and added that they breathe life into areas of the city which are ‘economically redundant’.

The spokesperson said: “UEA provides excellent and affordable campus accommodation for students and works closely with the Students’ Union in supporting students to access to high quality private rental opportunities in the city. In addition, UEA Accommodation runs a Home Stay scheme which provides an opportunity for students to live with a local family, where that is their preferred style of accommodation.

“UEA recognises that a diverse student population requires a range of accommodation solutions and it is certainly the case that for some students, accommodation offered by private providers is their choice of living arrangement.”

However, UEASU Campaigns and Democracy Officer Jack Robinson warned against these student complexes. He said “These new builds are marketed as high end and, therefore, expensive. Student cost of living is already too high, as evidenced in our annual SU survey. Affordable alternatives, managed by landlords and agencies who deliver high quality and reasonably priced services, is what we need more of in Norwich.”

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