Lancaster car wash closes to make way for 430-bed student flats plan

A popular Lancaster car wash has closed as part of plans for a 430-bed student flats development.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 8:00 am

The scheme, featuring two accommodation blocks, is proposed for a site connecting two pieces of land between Caton and Bulk Roads, near to where the 630-bed Caton Court student flats were built in 2019.

Dana car wash was on part of the site, as is A Cut Above carpet shop. The car wash has now closed down as developers prepare for the proposals to go before the city council’s planning committee.

The plans also include the area between Farm Foods and the former Kashish restaurant in Parliament Street.

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Dana car wash has closed.

Student accommodation specialists Primus Property Group are behind the plans for the 433-bed scheme, which also incorporates a multi-functional cinema/gaming/karaoke room, large gym, a games area, a yoga/dance studio and outdoor space.

One of the blocks would be nine storeys high and the other would be six storeys.

Tim Groom Architects have designed the development, which is said to take “cues from the historical buildings surrounding the site”.

Primus believe the development would provide a range of much needed secure, purpose-built student accommodation to suit student demands within the city, and that the flats would improve the appearance of the site.

How the student flats would look. Photo: Tim Groom Architects

Although the site is within a flood zone, it is included in Lancaster City Council’s Local Plan as a Development Opportunity Site as it provides the chance to improve the northern gateway to the city centre and address the long-term dereliction of the area as well as complementing regeneration of the neighbouring Canal Quarter.

However, there have been concerns raised by several agencies.

Lancaster University has questioned the demand for student accommodation within Lancaster city centre and has asked to see evidence of the demand analysis which supports the proposal.

"We would like to see the provision of a mix of accommodation rather than studio accommodation to promote economic diversity," they said.

"This studio proposal seems to be aimed to the higher end of the student residential market.

"The university works hard to maintain rent levels across the city and prevent rent increase across the sector for the interest of all students especially with the current economic situation and affordability."

They added that, as no parking is proposed as part of the development, occupants would be forced to park on adjacent streets which would detrimentally affect local residents.

Morecambe Bay CCG has asked for a contribution of £142,350 towards new infrastructure at Lancaster Medical Practice, due to the expected added strain on city centre GP services as a result of the scheme.

"Failure to secure the contribution we have requested effectively means that we are objecting to the application,” they said.

Lancaster Civic Vision said they had "strong objections" to the scheme.

"The society takes the position that no further purpose built student accommodation is currently required," Hugh Roberts said on the group's behalf.

"The market analysis accompanying this application may reflect national trends but in no way mirrors the local position, where anecdotal evidence exists showing that saturation point has already been reached."

They also said the location is unacceptable for a development of its size and scale.

In the absence of an acceptable flood risk assessment, the Environment Agency said it objected to the application and recommended that planning permission be refused.