Proposal for 285 student flats on Norwich car park turned down

An artist's impression of the St Catherine's Yard development. Pic: Lanpro.

An artist's impression of the St Catherine's Yard development. Pic: Lanpro. - Credit: Lanpro

Controversial plans to build more than 280 student flats are on a Norwich car park have been rejected, after neighbours made pleas for the scheme to be turned down.

People living in Carlton Terrace, in Surrey Street, had urged city councillors to reject the proposal for a complex called St Catherine's Yard next to their homes.

The 285 flat development, in the car park once used by Aviva workers in Sentinel House, would have ranged from three to eight storeys.

But people in Broadland Housing Association owned Carlton Terrace objected, saying it would dwarf and overshadow their homes.

They fear the loss of light and the potential for noise from students using rooftop terraces.

And they highlighted how the proposal goes against the council's own blueprint for development in the site, which is allocated in the local plan for a mixed use of offices with some residential development.

Carlton Terrace Resident Jenny Lyngs told the committee: 'Norwich seems to be in the grip of studentification.

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'We have not been opposed to the student developments at the bus station or All Saints Green, but this should be an office development.'

Another resident, Alison Hickey, was concerned at loss of light.

She said: 'I feel this building will turn my flat into a dull, dingy and depressing place to live.'

Broadland Housing Association also objected.

Green group leader Martin Schmeirer, who backed the residents, said: 'If we have got this local plan, why aren't we sticking with it?'

Officers said the scheme was a departure from council policy, but that the site has been empty for some time and it was unlikely an application for office accommodation would be lodged.

They acknowledged there was no up-to-date assessment of the need for student accommodation in the city.

Labour's Mike Sands said: 'Quite clearly, this is over-development. It is over-massed and really does not fit in with this area at all.'

And Green Simeon Jackson said the mass and bulk was clearly against council policy and it would be harmful to the amenities of people in Carlton Terrace.

Jane Crichton, from planning consultancy Lanpro, on behalf of developers SCY Student Accommodation Ltd, said the 'high quality' scheme had been revised to address the concerns of neighbours.

She said it would help meet the demand for city centre student housing and free up other homes around the city.

Labour's Keith Driver, who chaired the planning committee, said he was in favour of the scheme and the city should be providing affordable accommodation for students, but his party colleague Hugo Malik lamented what he described as a 'feeding frenzy' to reap the student pound.

But the committee voted by seven to four, with one abstention, not to approve the scheme.

They then voted by eight to two, with two abstentions, to turn down the flats on the grounds of height and massing not respecting the area and the neighbours.