Two hundred student flats in three buildings up to six storeys high have been approved on a site in Hollingdean Road, Brighton.
The plans involve demolishing buildings which are derelict, decrepit or in a state of bad state of disrepair.
Objections were submitted by dozens of people living near the site, which also involves demolishing a property in Freehold Terrace.
The scheme also includes a proposal to build eight homes which Brighton and Hove City Council class as “affordable”.
At a meeting of the council’s Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 10 December) a member of the Coombe Road Area Local Action Team (LAT) spoke for objectors.
Caroline Lynch spoke about “the impact on local amenity, the complete lack of parking provision, the impact on travel services and infrastructure … that we cannot sustain up the Lewes Road due to the massive increases in the density of people living in student houses already”.
She criticised “the cumulative impact of allowing larger developments like this”.
And she highlighted plans “half a mile away (for) another 1,000 bed spaces at Preston Barracks” and “another 150 or so on the Vogue Gyratory”.
She added: “How is a community supposed to maintain its cohesion and sustainability when the council supports such developments?”
She said that the concentration of students had prompted specific policy changes intended to curb the problem, adding: “Perhaps the council believe that as these areas are already over-concentrated, it does not matter to keep filling them up.
“If this planning application is approved today, the people of East Brighton will know for sure that their areas, having already been decimated by the conversion of family housing, are also up for sale to any developer.
“The reality is we will continue to have these issues and the housing crisis in this city until the universities take responsibility for housing their own existing students and the 10,000 new ones that will be in the city in four years’ time.
“If the universities are not prepared to house their own students, then Brighton council needs to tell the universities to do so.
“The city is full.”
A solicitor, Peter Rainier, the director of planning at law firm DMH Stallard, said that there was considerable need for student accommodation in Brighton.
He said that it was preferable to provide purpose-built accommodation than see more family homes converted into shared houses for students.
Brighton University was interested in using the accommodation, he said. It hopes students can move in from September 2016.
The site includes cycle parking and the developers would make a £140,000 planning gain payment towards sustainable transport.
Councillor Lynda Hyde said that it was a huge scheme. She said: “Overall the site is quite suitable for housing students.
“There will be an increase in traffic. Students will have deliveries. The apartments will have to be serviced. There is no parking.
“You can’t say that a single student will not have a car.
She disagreed with the report to councillors which said that there would be no displaced parking and added: “Part of these buildings are three storeys higher than the bridge in Hollingdean Road.
“Universities are big businesses now. They are recruiting overseas students. I thnk it’s very unlikely that family homes will be restored.”
She said that the 205 student homes would be too much on this site so close to family homes, causing disruption to the people already living in the area.
Councillor Geoff Wells criticised misleading visualisations supplied to councillors by the applicant and said: “It’s a massive over-development.
“There will be parking problems around the area even if only 10 per cent of students have cars.
“This is a site that should have family homes built on it.”
Councillor Carol Theobald said that it was trying to put a quart into a pint pot. She said that parking problems would also be exacerbated when, for example, parents came to visit.
Councillor Ian Davey said that it was a good scheme and would be a boost to Lewes Road and the local area and would improve the road’s outlook. He added: “It is a great opportunity.”
Custom-built student homes could prevent more family homes being lost to student housing even if existing properties were not turned back.
He hoped that a cycle route could be provided along the back to Preston Barracks as the scheme progresses on the site which occupies just under half an acre (0.16 hectares).
Councillor Graham Cox supported the application and said that it was important to find accommodation for students.
Councillor Mike Jones was mindful of the objections to the development on an awkward site but pleased that it would be a managed block. Despite reservations, he supported it.
The committee backed the scheme by eight votes to four.