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Surge in Norwich student housing sparks City Hall bid to take more control

PUBLISHED: 11:59 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 16 October 2019

Pablo Fanque House in Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Pablo Fanque House in Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

The surge in new student accommodation springing up in Norwich has prompted council bosses to forge new guidance for what would be acceptable.

Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.Norwich city councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

Norwich City Council has been grappling with a string of proposals for new student homes, particularly in the city centre.

Controversial applications for student flats near the Premier Inn in Duke Street and near Sentinel House in Surrey Street had sparked criticism that the city council did not have an assessment over how much student accommodation is needed.

It led city council officers to draw up such an assessment, along with a best practice advice note for developers who want to build student homes.

The estimates are that there would be a need for 1,000 extra purpose built units by 2024 and almost 1,500 by 2029.

The University of East Anglia is projecting an increase of 4,805 students by 2036 - an rise of 22pc, from 17.195 to 22,000.

And the Norwich University of the Arts predicts its numbers will increase from 2,215 to 2,600 10 years from now.

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The council's assessment was put out for consultation, prompting support from civic watchdog the Norwich Society and Historic England.

But it led to objections from planning agents acting for developers.

They argued the estimates are too conservative and giving a figure of need for five and 10 year periods could act as a cap on development.

The council stood by the figures and stressed that the estimates should not be seen as a cap on development.

Members of the council's sustainable development panel backed the document, which still needs to be adopted by the controlling Labour-cabinet.

Mike Stonard, chairman of the panel, said: "This is a really good piece of work, which really needed to be done."

He said it would give the council more power to influence the nature of student accommodation developments which come forward.

And he said providing purpose built student accommodation would help to free up family homes which are currently rented by students.

New student developments in the city include Pablo Fanque House in All Saints Green and the conversion of the Aviva Towers in St Stephens Street.

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