Revised plan for 273 student flats in Newcastle refused

DEVELOPERS behind plans for luxury student accommodation have been refused permission to add an extra 29 flats as it could spark parking chaos in nearby streets.The former Jubilee swimming baths have already been demolished to make way for the new apartment block overlooking Nelson Place roundabout in Newcastle town centre.

But Westlands Estates Ltd applied to Newcastle Borough Council to increase the number of flats from 244 to 273 as it no longer wanted to include duplex apartments that took up two floors.At the same time, it planned to reduce the dedicated parking for tenants from 21 spaces to just 19.

Now the borough’s planning committee has turned down the revised proposals following fears students would resort to on-street parking and would clog up other residential roads.

Angela Drakakis-Smith, chairman of Thistleberry Residents’ Association, spoke out at the planning meeting to highlight families’ concerns.

She said: “To increase the number of rooms and decrease the amount of parking appears to be somewhat perverse.

“We are reliably informed that parking in this part of town is already a problem. The students able to afford to live in this location will want to bring their own cars.”

The apartment complex will also feature an on-site gym, IT suite and cinema room.It is one of a series of student accommodation developments being planned across Newcastle, with other sites including Ryecroft and the old Orme Centre.

Dr Drakakis-Smith claimed having almost 1,000 student rooms in the town centre seemed ‘excessive’.

She added: “It is felt that, once more, a short-term goal appears to be undermining the long-term future of Newcastle.

“Planning officers had recommended the revised proposals for 273 student flats at Nelson Place were approved, saying it would not alter the external appearance of the new building.

But committee members voted to throw out the changes and stick to the original planning conditions, which were approved last year.

Councillor Andrew Fear said: “Unfortunately, it does seem this council is hell-bent on vandalising this important gateway to the town.

“He highlighted how it would be legally unenforceable to insist that students who rented the flats did not bring their own cars.

Fellow committee member Paul Northcott said: “The original application was done on the basis of the scale, massing and appearance.

“That has significantly changed now and I think we need to refuse it.”

As part of the original conditions, if the development does cause significant problems with on-street parking, a residents’ only parking zone could be created after 12 months.

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