University of Cumbria's 214-bed student tower block plans for Lancaster campus in line for green light

Plans for a tower block at the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus to be demolished and replaced with a new 10-storey student housing block are expected to be approved next week.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 12:30 pm

The application - for the demolition of the existing 10 storey William Thompson tower and other buildings and the erection of an eight, nine and 10 storey building to provide student accommodation - was initially deferred at a meeting last month over drainage concerns.But it will be looked at once again by members oft the city council's planning committee on Monday, and officers have recommended the scheme be approved.

The accommodation would provide 214 en-suite bedrooms arranged in clusters of five or six with each cluster served by a kitchen/dining area and additional shared social space on each floor.

Further communal student social space would be provided on the ground floor along with with conference facilities, a bar/café, laundry, cycle store, plant room and servicing facilities.

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How the new tower would look from Bowerham Road looking up Havelock Street. Photo: Lancaster City Council

The replacement block would provide an extra 49 student beds than the current block.

The city council has received 35 objections to the scheme from nearby residents who have concerns about the scale of the development and its impact on traffic, parking, pollution and wildlife, among other objections.

The plans form part of a larger development scheme by the university first unveiled last April which also included two proposals which were approved last month.

Applications submitted by the university for a supported living facility and an extra care village to be built on campus were both approved at last month's planning meeting.The decisions mean a new four-storey extra care residential building will be built overlooking Coulston Road, and the current Barbon Hall and Hornby Hall will be converted into affordable residential apartments.

How the new tower would look from the top of Golgotha Road. Photo: Lancaster City Council

In addition, the university tennis courts will be redeveloped with a new access road leading from nearby Anderson Close to form a new two-storey supported living facility comprising 13 one-bedroom flats.

However, despite the university saying they and the developer undertook a public pre-application consultation exercise in April 2020, residents living near the Bowerham campus say they continue to feel ignored after the decisions made at last month's meeting.

Katherine Young, who lives in Clougha Avenue, said residents still feel that their opinions are not being taken into account.

"We are at a loss," she said. "One neighbour said he has wasted a year of his life...spending precious time researching, emailing, learning.

Residents make their feelings clear about the University of Cumbria's plans.

"Neighbourhood groups have no support, no training, they rely on the system to work, to listen to them. But all too often it is the business that wins, and neighbours have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

"Why aren't neighbours' feelings taken into account? They have just been dismissed as though they count for nothing. There seems to be an unwritten, but very clear, assumption: neighbours' views are just 'feelings' and therefore have no value and will be ignored."

The distance between residents' gardens and the development site of the new supported living facility which was approved last month.