Controversial plans for new housing schemes at University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus given green light

Two proposed developments at the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus have been approved by the city council's planning meeting.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 11:57 am

Members of the committee gave the thumbs up on Monday to plans for a supported living facility and an extra care village to be built at the Bowerham campus.

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.

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.

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The University of Cumbria land backing onto Clougha Avenue which will now be redeveloped.

A third application - for the demolition of the existing 10 storey tower and other buildings and erection of an eight, nine and 10 storey building to provide student accommodation - was not listed for Monday's meeting.

The three applications were put on hold earlier this month over concerns raised about drainage on the site.

However, councillors voted to approve the applications, both of which have also been delegated back to the head of planning to, in the absence of any new material planning matters being raised, formally issue a decision notice on April 6.

The schemes have been met with resistance by many residents living near the site, who objected to the supported living facility in particular, mostly relating to issues such as distance from neighbouring properties, privacy, access and transport.

Residents have objected to the plans.

Three residents spoke at the meeting in objection to the plans for the extra care village and the affordable residential flats, while four spoke against the supported living facility proposals.

Afterwards, Richard Kenworthy said on behalf of Anderson Close residents: “Our only hope now is if the university and its partners have planned to locate the building on or within 5m of the 63cm diameter pressurised water mains that run across the site.

"If this is the case they will have to re-design the building and re-apply for planning permission.

"The university submitted maps dated April and May 2020 showing that they knew the approximate location of the water mains. They have had all this time to verify their exact location, but have done nothing.

"An engineer visiting the site earlier this month said that the only way to be sure of the location of the water mains is to dig exploratory holes to find the pipes.

"The university and its partners will not be able to start building work until they have found these water mains and also carried out infiltration testing in connection with the surface water drainage.

"Once these have been submitted to, and approved by, both United Utilities and the Lead Local Flood Authority then the planning pre-conditions can be confirmed as being met and work can start.

"In the meantime the public consultation on the application for the replacement for the William Thompson Tower continues. Despite the original design being for a seven-storey tower with a larger footprint than the original tower, the design was radically changed in January. It is now eight, nine or 10 storeys high, depending from which direction you look at it.

“Based on the planning committee’s decisions today it looks very likely that they will vote to approve this plan when they meet on April 26 to consider this matter, regardless of local residents’ objections.”

A University of Cumbria spokesman said: “We are delighted that the first two applications have been approved and we can move ahead with our plans.”