Lancaster civic group issues warning as city faces 'glut' of student housing
Members of Lancaster Civic Vision have urged developers in the city to provide more housing for local residents trying to get on the property ladder.
And they have warned the city council against the danger of “putting all the eggs into one basket” by allowing an increasing amount of student housing to be built.
The group's concerns have been aired in response to our story last month, which highlighted plans for student apartments in historic Lancaster locations which are set to go before councillors this month.
One scheme is proposed for a site in St Leonard’s Gate, while another is suggested for a listed building in China Street.
"Your feature highlights the fact that over recent years major changes have been taking place in the townscape of Lancaster as a consequence of the construction of a large number of purpose-built student accommodation blocks," the group said.
"Lancaster Civic Vision, as a “statutory consultee”, has been closely monitoring these developments. In many cases we have welcomed the bringing back into use of brown-field sites and derelict buildings which had become embarrassing eyesores.
"We have frequently pleaded (often to no avail) for a reduction in height of some of larger the structures. Strong objections were expressed to the construction of two blocks alongside the Carlisle Bridge on the quay, and to the development of the disused Filter House site on the A6, south if the city. Both of our objections were unsuccessful.
"We have been pleased to recognise the efforts of some developers to respect original features of many Lancaster’s heritage buildings in their conversions e.g. the Waring and Gillows shop on North Road, a Georgian-style house in Cable Street and some similar residences on St Leonard’s Gate.
"Unfortunately, this development (also in St Leonard’s Gate) we find unacceptable, since the design fails to emulate the façade of the adjoining building, going so far as to insert a false front doorway.
"Lancaster Civic Vision is also concerned that the city could soon be facing a glut of such accommodation, much of which could not then be used for other purposes.
"In common with Lancaster University we have sought evidence from the city council of current and future demand, in the belief that developments already completed or under consideration could exceed requirements
"The current uncertainties about the impact of leaving the EU, the possibility that countries such as China could choose to expand their own institutions, might all contribute to an uncertain future for the high-end studio flats which are now being marketed.
"Civic Vision recognises the considerable contribution made by our universities to the local economy but has to warn against the danger of “putting all the eggs into one basket”.
"We would like to see developers divert their efforts into providing affordable housing for those struggling to gain a foothold on the property market."