PLANS to build housing for 432 students in the centre of Canterbury have been green-lighted - despite a wave of opposition from neighbours.
Residents reacted with anger yesterday evening, as the extensive development earmarked for the former site of the Peugeot garage in Rhodeus Town was given the go-ahead by councillors.
The council’s development management committee approved the proposals with a narrow vote, but with a lengthy list of conditions.
The decision, which was made by a six to five majority, prompted Lansdown Road resident Robert Pratt-McMachan to tell councillors they had lost his confidence.
The application was submitted by Canterbury Christ Church University, which hopes to build five blocks containing 72 flats on the site next to its new Augustine House building.
The council received more than 70 letters of objection from neighbours and residents’ associations including the Canterbury Society.
They raised concerns about the scale of the development due to issues including a lack of water resources, and said the proposed buildings were too tall and at odds with the area’s character.
Some neighbours also feared an influx of students could rob them of their privacy and security, and cause an increase in noise and anti-social behaviour.
At the meeting at the Guildhall, Mr Pratt-McMachan - who was speaking on behalf of a group of 30 residents against the development - said little consideration had been given to families living nearby.
Councillors including Bill Oakey also raised concern about the effect proposed access from behind the site in Lansdown Road would have on residents.
But Kent Highways chief Ruth Goudie said it made sense for students to use Lansdown Road instead of the busy A28, which had no specific cycle path and would hold up traffic as pedestrians crossed the road.
In a statement, the university’s facilities manager Lee Soden added: “Canterbury Christ Church University has considerable experience in managing accommodation in the city.
“The development would have 24 hour security and CCTV, which would minimise concerns about risks. The university wants to continue its excellent relationship with residents.”
After the vote, Councillor Nick Eden-Green said: “It’s a finely balanced vote on a major issue, and we’re on the cusp of a very uncertain, unclear and dicey decision.”
Conditions imposed included restrictions on access from Lansdown Road between 7pm and 7am, and a requirement for developers to contribute to transport infrastructure work including improvements to pedestrian subways.
What do you think? Was the committee right to approve the development? Will it affect you? E-mail newsdesk.times@KRNmedia.co.uk or comment below.