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'No privacy whatsoever' - Families in fear controversial student development gets green light

PUBLISHED: 15:14 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:59 14 November 2019

The site next to the Premier Inn in Duke Street where student flats could be built. Pic: Dan Grimmer

The site next to the Premier Inn in Duke Street where student flats could be built. Pic: Dan Grimmer

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Families living in a riverside apartment block have been left fearing for their privacy after plans to build an eight-storey student housing block nearby were given the narrowest of go-aheads.

Councillor Keith Driver by the two homes in Meadowbrook Close where a sinkhole has appeared in their front gardens. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCouncillor Keith Driver by the two homes in Meadowbrook Close where a sinkhole has appeared in their front gardens. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The controversial proposal to build a student housing development on the car park of the Premier Inn on Duke Street in Norwich went before city councillors on Thursday amid fierce objection from neighbours, including those living in Duke Palace Wharf.

And with the committee finely divided on the application, chairman Keith Driver was left to call on his casting vote to decide the fate of the project, which was a revised version of a previously refused scheme.

However, despite emotive appeals from a dozen neighbours, the scheme was given the green light - a decision that was met with groans of disappointment from its opponents.

A previous attempt to develop the site from Raer Estates/Keypoint Norwich was refused in March 2018, with a planning inspector vindicating the council's decision at appeal.

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However, the developer returned with a scaled-back design, reducing the height of the building and the number of flats from 152 to 139 and moving its proposed position further from the riverbank.

However, Martin Schmierer, Green Party councillor for the Mancroft ward, was among those speaking against the proposals, described the revision as "replacing Everest with K2".

Meanwhile, families living in the nearby Duke Palace Wharf, which is around 35 metres away, said they feared for their privacy, sunlight and living conditions should the plans get the go ahead.

Patricia Pascoe-Meinecke, one the neighbours, said: "If this building goes ahead I would have no privacy whatsoever - I would be living in a goldfish bowl."

However, Mr Driver said: "There are not many other places in the city where you can live 35 metres away from your neighbours. Some places you are lucky to even have two metres separating you."

The scheme was recommended for approval by officers and with the vote squared at five votes apiece, Mr Driver used his casting vote to give the application the green light.

Ian Stutely (L), Paul Neale (G), Lesley Grahame (G), Mike Sands (L) and Cate Oliver (L) were the councillors who voted against the plan.

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