Plans for 302 student flats above city car park recommended for approval - despite objections

Computer generated image of what a new student development on Barn Road could look like. Picture: Al

Computer generated image of what a new student development on Barn Road could look like. Picture: Alumno - Credit: Alumno

Plans to build more than 300 student flats above a city car park have been recommended for approval - despite Historic England objecting to the scheme.

The heritage watchdog has raised serious concerns over the development, which would see a tower of 302 flats built at Barn Road in Norwich, with a council-run car park underneath.

While its submission supported the notion of development at the site, it was critical of the building's design, particularly given its proximity to the city walls.

It said: 'Regardless of how the car park openings might be clad or disguised, this aspect of the development is likely to always be an unsatisfactory and negative aspect of the streetscape.

'In addition, there is a major concern that the St Swithin's Road elevation is a single line of unbroken development of unified height and form, and the north elevation would be quite overbearing and make the mass of the building quite out of scale with anything else in the area.'

The watchdog also suggested the proposed building should be reduced in height and set back 10m from the city walls to allow for tree planting without causing root damage.

Despite these reservations, council officers have recommended that members of the planning committee at City Hall give the development, which is known as Mulberry Yard, the green light.

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Joy Brown, the case officer for the scheme, said: 'The site would bring forward 302 student bedspaces which will contribute towards the shortfall in supply of both student and general housing.

'It also has the potential to significantly enhance the quality of the street scene and redevelop a car park which is a negative feature in the conservation area.

'Although concerns have been raised by Historic England and Norwich City Council's conservation officer regarding overall height and mass of the building, it is considered that the proposed footprint makes efficient use of the land.'

The development is proposed by Alumno, the company behind two of the city's recent student buildings - Pablo Fanque House and All Saints Green.

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno, said: 'In recent years we have been fortunate to bring forward several successful projects in Norwich and are delighted to have opened Pablo Fanque House to UEA students just two months ago. If approved, these new proposals for the Barn Road car park would continue our investment in the city, building on the local relationships we have already developed.

'We hope our plans will be well-received and want to continue making a positive contribution in Norwich. This includes engaging with city's rich mixture of culture and community, and supporting the local economy through significant investment in regeneration.'

The application will be debated at the city council's planning committee on Thursday.