A student accommodation block on a gateway site in Chester has been approved after a planning appeal, with an independent inspector stating Cheshire West & Chester Council had made “vague, generalised or inaccurate assertions” when it rejected the scheme last April.
The 376-bed, eight-storey project, designed by Day Architectural and brought forward by developer PJ Properties, is planned for a site between Hoole Way and Black Diamond Park, and was originally recommended for approval in April last year.
However, Cheshire West & Chester’s planning committee unanimously rejected the scheme, arguing it would “dwarf” nearby buildings, especially neighbouring homes at Black Diamond Park. Councillors also objected to a lack of parking at the scheme, with nine spaces provided.
Chester Civic Trust had also argued against the project, and said its “excessive height and bulk” would impact nearby housing developments.
Following an independent inspection, the project has now been approved, with Cheshire West & Chester ordered to pay costs to the developer, which is part of the wider Jansons Property Group.
Inspector Andrew McGlone said he did not consider the building to be “incongruous and dominant” and said it was “in keeping with the character and appearance of the area”.
On the issue of overlooking and the impact on other neighbouring properties, McGlone found there would be “no adverse effect” in terms of sunlight and shadowing on properties on Black Diamond Street during the summer, with only a small impact on the properties during the winter.
He also said noise concerns were not a reason to reject the scheme with the building’s main entrance on Hoole Way, away from residential development at the rear of the site.
In ordering the council to pay costs, McGlone found the council “had behaved unreasonably”.
The report said: “[The council] failed to produce evidence to substantiate each reason for refusal on appeal, and made vague, generalised or inaccurate assertions about the proposal’s impact, which were unsupported by objective analysis.
“They prevented and delayed a development which should clearly have been permitted, having regard to its accordance with the development plan, national policy, and any other material considerations.”
Ben Roberts of Jansons Property said his firm would press on with the development and will aim to have it ready for the 2020/21 academic year.
“We are looking forward to getting to work on the site and ultimately to helping the City and its University attract the best and the brightest to study in Chester,” he said.
“Whilst the need to go to appeal has delayed the project we remain hugely enthusiastic about delivering a signature building of the highest quality. We anticipate the development being ready to welcome its first occupants during 2020.”
The site has been vacant for around 10 years and is currently used as a temporary car park. Previous plans for an office, granted outline planning permission in June 2014, were never progressed.
Cheshire West & Chester Council has been contacted for comment.