Student flats in Lancaster set for green light despite safety fears

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Plans for a former bed store to be converted into student housing have been recommended for approval.

Bensons for Beds in Brock Street is currently empty and has fallen into disrepair.

Applicant Inayat Munshi wants to bring the building back into use, with a ground floor retail unit and student accommodation on the first, second, third and new fourth floors.

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These would comprise of four cluster flats and 20 studio flats with construction of dormer roof extensions to the front and rear.

An application to turn the former Bensons for Beds store in Lancaster into student flats is set to be given the green light by councillors.An application to turn the former Bensons for Beds store in Lancaster into student flats is set to be given the green light by councillors.
An application to turn the former Bensons for Beds store in Lancaster into student flats is set to be given the green light by councillors.

Access to the building would be provided via Brock Street at ground floor level for the retail use, and access to a shared entrance lobby for the rest of the building via a dedicated

entrance lobby served from Mary Street, also providing access to a building manager’s office and cycle store for the use of the student units.

Access doors to the rear are to be retained and provide access to the rear alley and for fire escape to the ground floor retail unit only, and as a refuse and bike storage area for both the retail unit and the upper floor accommodation.

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Residents and nearby businesses have objected to the application, saying the back alleyway is the only fire escape route for nearby buildings and communal bins would attract rats.

Jon Oliver said: “This proposal will effectively render useless, the only service and fire escape route for the national and local operators at the neighbouring properties.

"Furthermore, given the nature of students, communal bins and amenity spaces are never maintained correctly.

"Should the neighbouring properties be expected to walk through a potentially rat infested 10 bin store to get to their place of work?"

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Amanda Mills said: “Over the years the alley has had very little use, under the proposed application, it will be accessible to all tenants to store bikes and rubbish.

"Given the increase in activity in the passage, what security measures will be put in place to protect the rear access to nearby buildings?

"We have had previous problems with rodents when bins were stored out back by the previous occupiers of the building.

"What measures are in place to ensure that all rubbish is stowed correctly thus not attracting vermin to your bins, which in turn could progress along the passage and into our premises?

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“Who will be responsible for 'policing' the passage to ensure bikes and bins are stowed correctly and not piled up thus blocking our fire escape route?”

Tariq Malik commented on the application on behalf of the applicant saying: “The primary concerns centre around the proposed arrangements for bike storage and refuse disposal, particularly in relation to the shared alley and its significance as a means of access and escape route.

"Arrangements for the bikes and refuge have undergone thorough exploration to address the specific needs of the site whilst ensuring the safety and convenience of all occupants.

"Also, measures will be implemented to mitigate any potential risks associated with vermin attraction and improper use of communal refuse facilities.”

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The planning application is recommended for approval by councillors at the Planning Committee meeting on Monday, March 25 at Morecambe Town Hall.

The planning application number 23/00793/FUL can be viewed at https://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/view-applications-and-decisions

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