View guides

Student Accommodation in York Set for Formal Approval

Posted by Calum Martin in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, (View licence)

A new student accommodation block in York has received unanimous support from members of the City Council's planning committee and is set to be formally approved.

The proposed development site is located on Aubrey House, Foss Islands Road. Other developments are currently underway on the road including a new 4-storey hotel, which will take the place of a former carpet store.

The scheme has been put forward by Urbanite, S & JD Robertson Group Ltd and Portman Land Ltd. It will see the demolition of two existing buildings on the site.

Since first being announced in July 2020, the scheme has been scaled back in size. Originally planned to be a 7-storey, 112 bedroom building, the latest application sets out to provide bed spaces for 79 students. This will be made up of 11 cluster flats and 19 studios, alongside a communal room and a roof terrace. If formal approval is granted, each cluster will share a communal kitchen, dining and living space.

Despite the proposals backing from the Council, the scheme has had mixed reviews. Dr Duncan Marks of York Civic Trust has stated: "The architecture of Aubrey House itself remains one of the last tangible links to the C19 and early C20 uses of the site and when a community existed here."

He continued: "This area of the city is at risk of becoming the planning equivalent of a dumping ground of cheap hotels and densely-spaced student accommodation, with barely a tree or blade of grass between them, surrounded by busy roads and appalling air quality."

York's conservation architect has written: "The historic character immediately beyond the historic walls in this part of the city has largely been lost, but this means the remaining buildings are now key illustrations of the historic development of this part of the city, and their demolition and will harm that ability to understand."

Council officers have noted that the design of the new block is far from perfect, stating: "There are weaknesses in the scheme, notably the side and rear elevations which will appear particularly monotonous and bland due to the scale of the building and there being shear walls with no meaningful relief."

The proposal has been recommended in a report from the planning officers, noting: "The application site is in a sustainable location.

"The proposed development is not considered to result in harm to the residential amenity or highway safety, nor would the proposal have an unacceptable impact on ecology on or adjacent to the site.

"The proposal would provide student accommodation where there is a need within the city, and would benefit the wider housing supply."

Emma Lancaster, an agent speaking on behalf of the applicant, has told councillors that demand for student accommodation in York is high and currently outstrips supply.

She went on to warn that failure to provide this type of accommodation would stifle the growth of the city's student population, and in turn damage the local economy.