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Planners reject major student housing scheme in Chester

Plans for a major student accommodation scheme in Chester have been rejected by the local council.

The Cheshire West and Chester planning committee unanimously rejected plans for a 376-bed student accommodation scheme in Chester city centre, near the town’s railway station, despite planning officers recommending the project for approval.

Developer Morbaine had planned to build a mixed eight and seven-storey building on the 0.3 ha site at Hoole Way, but councillors argued the building was an inappropriate size and cited issues around access and parking.

Designed by Day Architects, the building would have provided 56 self-contained studio rooms alongside communal flats, as well as communal facilities including a lounge and cinema on the ground floor.

However, councillor Samantha Dixon slammed the building’s design and argued that it would “dwarf anything in the vicinity”, particularly a neighbouring housing development at Black Diamond Park.

She also argued the building had inadequate parking facilities with only nine spaces provided as part of the designs.

Chester Civic Trust also objected to the building’s scale, and argued its “excessive height and bulk” would impact other local housing developments.

However, planning officers had recommended the scheme for conditional planning approval, with officers arguing that the proposed scheme had “a bold design” that would “reflect the status” of the gateway site.

“The high-quality materials proposed are worthy of a building in such a prime location and enhance its appearance,” added the report.

Planners had also received a petition with 374 signatories backing the project, while the scheme was also backed by the local chamber of commerce.

The troubled site has remained vacant for more than 10 years, with previous plans including an office development, which was granted outline planning permission in June 2014.

However, this was never brought forward and the site has since been used as a temporary car park before the developer put forward new proposals.

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