Student flats boom to boost city economy

Land behind Church Street and facing onto Dameside Street, which has a planning proposal to be turned into student accomodation incorporating a restaurant and bar.
Land behind Church Street and facing onto Dameside Street, which has a planning proposal to be turned into student accomodation incorporating a restaurant and bar.
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PLANS for three new student accommodation developments have been submitted to the council in Lancaster - including one for a huge 123-bed, five-storey block.

The proposals would see the construction of new buildings at the back of V-Bar in Church Street, stretching back to Damside Street onto the car park opposite the bus station.

Around the corner in New Street, plans have also gone in for 10 student units above the Bamboo Garden Chinese Restaurant. Meanwhile, an application in Brock Street could see the current delicatessen and art gallery below The Sultan of Lancaster being turned into seven student units.

The Church Street application was originally submitted in April by Andrew Stanyon for Megafone (RBS) with an address at 76 Church Street, but fell through..

It has now been re-submitted and would see a similar construction finish to the recently completed Kingsway building in Caton Road.

The Church Street frontage, which is in the New Lancaster Conservation Area, would not see any major change.

The work would also involve moving V-Bar to the basement and the Teatro restaurant to the ground floor of the building, with a large extension on land between 50 - 62 Church Street.

It is thought that Lancaster University is actively encouraging further development of student accommodation in the city centre, although the university did not want to comment on this.

A former business owner in Church Street, who did not wish to be named, said he was concerned about the amount of space afforded to each student in the building.

The standard en-suite rooms, which include a shower, toilet and sink, measure 2.84m by 4.05m.

He added: “Even hens don’t get couped up like that.”

He also said he was dubious about whether all the spaces could be filled, and what would become of the building if it couldn’t.

Phil Simpson, whose company C2 Investments Ltd ended its lease of the building from Lancaster businessman Martin Higginson a few months ago said: “I’m fairly happy about this new development, it’s bringing people into the city centre who have money to spend.

“That said there will be a lot more people of a younger age in Lancaster, and the big issue is the control of new students in the city.”

A paragraph in the design and access statement which formed part of the Church Street application, said: “The market for purpose-built student accommodation has grown rapidly in recent years fuelled by rising numbers of foreign students.”

The application also stated that the development was “particularly for foreign students”.

However Andrew Stanyon told the Guardian the development was aimed at both UK and overseas students.

But a spokeswoman for Lancaster University said: “We don’t expect to expand the numbers of international students significantly on campus, although there may be a modest increase in registrations.”