The Gillows Cityblock

CityBlock looks for wriggle room on sound

The student accommodation developer has asked Lancaster City Council to remove a planning condition it says is affecting its ability to fund development of The Gillows, a 98-bed scheme in its home city.

The firm obtained consent for the scheme in December last year, targeting completion in summer 2018. Trevor Bargh, chief executive of CityBlock and Bargh Estates, said: “We have submitted designs supported by independent noise assessors showing that the scheme, including bedrooms and living spaces, will be properly soundproofed.

“However, one of the planning conditions requires the building to be built and once completed, acoustically tested and assessed by independent consultants.

“We feel this is an impractical condition, and as such we have submitted an application to the planning department to remove it. Doing so will allow us to focus on rejuvenating the Gillows building, a much-loved local landmark with a huge amount of heritage in Lancaster, which has sadly been left stagnant for way too long while we spend time debating regulations.”

The condition relates to protecting residents from noise emanating from the adjacent Sugarhouse nightclub. The Lancaster University Students Union, which runs the club, opposed the Gillows scheme ahead of its consent last year and has now launched a campaign, entitled Build It Right, to keep the condition in place.

The union insists that the condition is needed in order to protect the welfare of students living in the flats and to head off the threat of the Sugarhouse being threatened with noise pollution sanctions at a later date.

Bargh said: “CityBlock’s priority is ensuring all parts of the proposed development at the Gillows building provide a high quality of living and comfort for students, particularly when it comes to noise disturbance.

“We in no way wish to infringe on the Sugarhouse’s history, legacy and success in the city. Rather, we wish to further support it by welcoming a new wave of students to the local area.

“However, the Sugarhouse also has a duty to operate in a reasonable manner so as to not cause a noise nuisance to local residents. We’re calling upon the council to remove the planning condition in order to allow this important development to proceed, which we believe is in the interests of all parties involved.”

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I’m not sure how this can be an impractical planning condition. The noise consultants will presumably have carried out predictions on noise transfer and designed the facades, ventilation and separating constructions accordingly. Testing upon completion is relatively quick and simple in relation to that, and gives everyone comfort that the construction is as-designed.

By Susan Witterick, dBx Acoustics Ltd

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