More than 250 flats for Norwich car park after inspector rules council wrong to reject them

An image of how the development in the Sentinel House car park could look. Pic: Lanpro.

An image of how the development in the Sentinel House car park could look. Pic: Lanpro. - Credit: Lanpro

More than 250 student flats are to be built on a Norwich city centre car park, after an inspector ruled councillors were wrong to reject the proposals.

Carlton Terrace, in Surrey Street. Pic: Dan Grimmer

Carlton Terrace, in Surrey Street. Pic: Dan Grimmer - Credit: Archant

Neighbours have been left disappointed after a planning inspector gave the green light for the homes on the former Sentinel House car park in Surrey Street.

Plans for 280 student flats on the former Norwich Union/Aviva car park were first turned down by city councillors in 2017.

People in nearby Carlton Terrace had said the scheme would dwarf and overshadow their homes. Developers SYC Student Accommodation Ltd appealed, but that was dismissed.

However, it was not dismissed because of the impact on people in Carlton Terrace, but because of the impact on people living in Sentinel House itself, which has been redeveloped as flats.

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While that appeal was ongoing, the applicants lodged a revised application to City Hall, reducing the number of flats to 252 and cutting some of the heights.

Once again, members of the city council's planning committee rejected the scheme in June last year.

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The councillors turned it down because of the negative effect on the living conditions in Carlton Terrace and the negative effect on the heritage assets at Carlton Terrace and the wider conservation area.

However, the applicants appealed once again.

And this time, planning inspector Tom Gilbert-Wooldridge allowed the appeal.

He said the revisions had reduced the impact on those living in Sentinel House and that there would be "no unacceptable effects on occupiers of Carlton Terrace".

He added: "The development would help with the shortfall in supply of student and general housing and assist in freeing up private housing, including houses in multiple occupation."

More than a hundred people, living in Carlton Terrace and Sentinel House, had signed a petition against the proposal.

Rob McKenna, from the Carlton Residents Group, said: "It is very disappointing for both the Carlton and Sentinel House residents.

"It is particularly disappointing that the council planning department declined to defend the objections of the revised planning application in full to the planning inspectorate."

A Norwich City Council spokeswoman said: "Although the planning committee took into account concerns of local residents in their reasons for refusing permission to the scheme on two occasions, the appeal process through the planning inspectorate looked at the case as a whole in relation to planning law.

"As part of this process, the council has to provide evidence to support any reasons for refusal.

"But, given the inspectorates' previous decision on the larger scheme - that it didn't affect either Carlton Terrace or the Conservation Area - felt unable to do so without being accused of unreasonable behaviour towards the applicant.

"This meant it was not appropriate to elaborate on our original reasons for refusal since they were effectively no longer grounds to prevent the development going ahead."

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