£20m student village plan for derelict site

Photo: David Hurst'Derelict land on Caton Road, Lancaster, which there are plans to build on.

Photo: David Hurst'Derelict land on Caton Road, Lancaster, which there are plans to build on.

  • Development will be biggest single student development in city
  • Residents welcome an end to derelict site
  • Nine storey building will house 500 students
  • Plans to develop “Gillows Quarter” in city
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A £20m 500 -bedroom ‘student village’ is set to be built on a derelict strip of land in Lancaster.

“There’s still definitely a need for quality student accommodation in Lancaster.”

Photo: David Hurst'Gillows Building, North Road, Lancaster.

Photo: David Hurst'Gillows Building, North Road, Lancaster.

Student accommodation is a thorny subject in the city.

Many say there are already too many in the city centre, and that the needs of local residents should now be considered.

Bulk Ward Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox said that the devil would be in the detail, but that residents in Bulk Road welcomed the 
development in principle mainly as an end to the dereliction.

He said: “Residents would want to be reassured that parking space on Bulk Road was not compromised.

“The developers promised ashlar stone-facing which is to be welcomed but a 9-storey tower at the foot of the development at the junction of Bulk and Back Caton Roads will impact on the urban landscape very widely – and create shadowing – and hence the need for photomontages from various angles.”

Coun Hamilton-Cox also said that he would prefer to see St Leonard’s House, which is opposite The Grand Theatre, used for local residents rather than student accommodation.

He said that proposals brought to councillors by council officers in February outlined one possible use of the former Gillows factory, university building and then council offices as student accommodation.

But this option was rejected unanimously by councillors, who asked officers to go away and look at other options for the building, including talking to adjacent property owners to see if a wider development deal could be brokered.

Coun Hamilton-Cox said he backed the idea and development of a Gillows Quarter, which would include the main building in North Road, currently Elements nightclub.

He said: “Local property owners and developers are wanting to work with the council to produce a residential-led redevelopment scheme for consultation.

“There’s a great opportunity here to put new life into a run-down area.”

Lancaster University Students’ Union, which owns and runs the Sugarhouse nightclub next to St Leonard’s House, said it had been aware for some time about discussions over the future of buildings that neighbour The Sugarhouse.

LUSU President Laura Clayson said: “At this stage no formal proposals have been submitted for development of any of the buildings surrounding The Sugarhouse.

“While we await with interest the outcome of the council’s market research, it would be unwise of us to speculate over the owners’ plans for this building or any of the other potential development sites in the area.”