Controversial plans to build accommodation for 187 Warwick University students in South Leamington have been approved.
The proposals, which involve creating a four-storey building on former British Telecom site in Althorpe Street with a pedestrian route along the Grand Union Canal Towpath onto Clemens Street, were granted planning permission by Warwick District Council’s planning committee by a vote of six to three at Leamington town hall last night (Tuesday).
Old Town residents had objected to the plans amid fears of a lack of parking provision and an overpopulation of students in the area while those with businesses in the Althorpe Street Industrial Estate had also raised concerns about those staying at and visiting the accommodation causing parking issues, which could affect trade and create safety problems.
But small buisiness owners in the area’s shopping streets have shown support for the plans with Old Town Team leader Jeremy Ireland speaking in favour at the meeting.
Committee members had doubts as to whether site rules, which would prevent students from parking cars within a one-mile radius of the accommodation, could actually be enforced but accepted they could not refuse the plans on these grounds as Warwickshire County Council’s highways department has raised no objections.
Cllr Jane Knight (Lab, Leaminton Clarendon), whose husband Cllr John Knight had spoken against the scheme on behalf of Leamington Town Council earlier in the meeting, said she would like the site to be used for affordable housing.
Cllr Felicity Bunker (Con, Kenilworth Park Hill) said: “This is a missed opportunity and the building would be so ugly.
“We could have nice accommodation here for people to live in all year not just for 30 weeks and economic benefits for the area all year too.
“This student accommodation, even though we need it, is not the answer.”
But Cllr Alan Boad, (Lib, Leamington Crown) had said: “This is a grotty area of town and has been for years. It is a mess.
“If this acts as a catalyst to get further development around the canal it could be the spark that leads to longer-term investment.”