“Desperately needed” student accommodation blocks will be built on the site of a former NHS mental health unit after councillors gave the green light.
York St John University (YSJ) will own and manage the flats, which will be available for around 35 per cent below the market rate – helping to house the many students from lower income backgrounds who attend the university.
Estates manager Nick Coakley said YSJ was one of the country’s fastest growing universities, which has this year been forced to put first year students into private houses of multiple occupation (HMO) due to a lack of purpose built student flats.
He added: “Our students are the paramedics, nurses, teachers, scientists, lawyers, artists, designers and business professionals of the future – vitally important to society, and in many cases already working in desperately needed key roles.”
The car free scheme will contain 210 bed spaces in six linked buildings, made up of 34 clusters varying in size from four to eight rooms.
The three-storey blocks will be built at Peppermill Court, off Huntington Road. It is already a popular student area due to its proximity to YSJ, but it is also a densely populated residential area.
Speaking during public participation, Cllr Rachel Melly said: “Residents feel that this is over-development, overbearing and will cause unacceptable levels of overlooking for existing residents on Mapelhurst Avenue and it will also cause parking problems and noise problems in the residential area.”
In a statement read by Cllr Fiona Fitzpatrick, one Huntington Mews resident said there would be friction between the residents and students.
“It takes about 30 seconds for students to convert a quiet study area into what could be a full on rave,” he said.
There will be a gap of 23 metres between the flats and the homes in Mapelhurst Avenue to the north.
“When it comes to assumptions around privacy, we think we’ve gone as far as we can go and beyond the buffer distances that were discussed with the council planning team,” Mr Coakley said.
“The development will be owned and operated by the university who will take an active role in its management, will have a 24/7 presence on site through a security office with student wardens supplementing that, CCTV monitoring and a large number of noise metres installed.”
Councillors Pete Kilbane and Katie Lomas said they wished more consideration had been given to residents to the north, but said there was no planning reason to reject the application.
Cllr Kilbane said he hoped the management of students returning homes from nights out would be “robust”.
Cllr Michael Pavlovic added: “York St John desperately needs accommodation. What’s different is the fact that it’s particularly affordable for those students that would find living and coming to university all the more difficult – it’s something to be applauded.”
Representatives for the development said they would look into moving around some of the accessible rooms after concerns were raised by Cllr Lomas.