Lancaster developer wins appeal

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

A Lancaster based student accommodation developer has won its appeal against a planning condition in relation to the city’s historic former Gillows building.

The Planning Inspectorate overturned a condition set by Lancaster City Council on noise mitigation measures, meaning CityBlock Ltd can now forge ahead with the redevelopment of the North Road building into student cluster flats.

The row centred around concerns from Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) that noise coming from its Sugarhouse nightclub behind the building could prompt complaints from new tenants, and that this could result in the potential closure of the Sugarhouse.

The planning condition imposed by Lancaster City Council when it initially granted permission for the development in December 2016 would have required “pre-occupation noise monitoring” prior to the new development being occupied.

CityBlock then applied to vary the condition and the planning committee refused, but the Planning Inspector said that the removal of the condition “would not harm the living conditions of future occupiers” and therefore the appeal was allowed.

Trevor Bargh, CEO of CityBlock Ltd said: “We are pleased with the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to support our appeals against a planning condition that was found to be unnecessary and unreasonable. We regret that we had to appeal the original decision but are excited about being able to finally progress the development and restore the Gillows building, which we believe is one of the finest historic buildings in Lancaster.

“Having owned the building for over 20 years we are eager to undertake the necessary works to ensure its future.”

Work is expected to start soon and be completed some time next year.

A spokesperson for Lancaster City Council said: “The Gillow scheme already benefited from planning permission to convert the building to student accommodation. The recent appeal sought to change some of the detail regarding noise assessment, in relation to the nearby late night uses surrounding the site. This was a finely balanced case, highlighted by the fact that planning officers recommended approval, while the Planning Committee itself considered that the proposals could negatively impact upon The Sugar House and decided to refuse permission. Unfortunately the Planning Inspector has disagreed and while there is obvious disappointment in that decision, we recognise the fine balance involved in this case.”

Mr Bargh added: “We are committed to ensuring the new development provides a quiet, quality living experience for our students; student wellbeing is always our number one priority across all of our developments.

“This process has resulted in significant delays in bringing forward the development of our listed building into occupational use. However, we are now confident that our high specification will exceed the original conditions that were proposed.

“We would like to thank Lancaster Civic Society for helping to bring this this matter to a common-sense conclusion and will now proceed, working alongside LUSU and Lancaster University positively to deliver an excellent facility that is fit for purpose.”

No-one from LUSU was available for comment.

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