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Controversy over latest schemes to swell Norwich city centre student numbers

PUBLISHED: 15:49 04 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:08 05 March 2018

The site next to the Premier Inn in Duke Street where student accommodation could be built. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The site next to the Premier Inn in Duke Street where student accommodation could be built. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

Archant

The surge in student accommodation being built in Norwich could continue, with decisions due over two proposals which would swell the city centre’s student population by more than 750.

St Crispins House, which could be turned into homes for 600 students. Picture: Mike PageSt Crispins House, which could be turned into homes for 600 students. Picture: Mike Page

The studentification of the heart of Norwich has been praised as an economic boost for the city centre and a way to free up homes for families in residential areas.

But Norwich City Council has come under fire for having no overall assessment over how much student accommodation the city needs, which the Green Party warned could lead to piecemeal development.

And the controversy will be stirred again on Thursday, when two proposals for student accommodation come before city councillors.

One is for a development of a building containing 152 student beds, with communal kitchens, on land next to the Premier Inn Hotel in Duke Street.

James Goffin, head of communications at The Inspiration Trust.James Goffin, head of communications at The Inspiration Trust.

Raer Estates Ltd/Keypoint (Norwich) Limited is asking the city council for permission for a building which would be nine storeys high at its maximum height.

But it has sparked more than 90 objections, including from people living nearby, civic watchdog The Norwich Society and the Inspiration Trust, which runs the nearby Jane Austen College.

A number of parents of students at the college, in Colegate, have also objected.

James Goffin, from the Inspiration Trust, objected, saying: “We remain extremely concerned about the overly domineering size of this structure, both on the Duke Street street scene and directly on the environs of Jane Austen College.”

The college is concerned the school’s playground area will be in total shadow and light will be lost from the college’s windows

Other neighbours have also objected to the loss of light and overlooking.

But officers at City Hall are recommending approval. They say the impact of loss of light would not be significant enough to justify refusal of the application.

The other application is for St Crispins House in Duke Street to be converted and extended to house 600 students.

The Norwich Society says it is “concerned about the number of student flats being provided in the city” and fears the building will “become totally over powering”. But officers recommend approval.

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