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Fears 'canyon' will be created on River Wensum if student flats allowed

Objectors fear a building on the car park in Duke Street will lead to a canyon effect on the River Wensum. Pic: Dan Grimmer

Objectors fear a building on the car park in Duke Street will lead to a canyon effect on the River Wensum. Pic: Dan Grimmer

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A fresh bid to build almost 150 student flats in Norwich runs the risk of creating a canyon effect along the River Wensum, critics of the scheme have claimed.

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

Civic watchdog The Norwich Society and the Broads Authority are among those who have objected to plans for the student development on a car park next to the Premier Inn in Duke Street.

Applicant Raer Estates/Keypoint Norwich is hoping Norwich City Council will grant permission for the scheme, which has been revised after previous plans were rejected by City Hall’s planning committee.

The Inspiration Trust, which runs the nearby Jane Austen College, had objected to the previous plans, saying the scheme, up to nine storeys in height, would mean the school would suffer from a loss of light.

A subsequent appeal against that refusal was rejected by a planning inspector, who said the plans would undermine the college’s expectation to have “sufficient access” to sun and daylight and would harm the living conditions of people living in Dukes Palace Wharf, on the opposite side of the river.

The revised scheme is for a 149-bed development, shorter than the previous proposal, with a maximum height of seven storeys.

The Inspiration Trust, while acknowledging the reduced height, is still objecting, as is the Norwich Society.

Rachel Kirk, co-ordinator of the Norwich Society, said: “The scheme is improved in that one storey has been removed from the Duke Street frontage and its return; also it has been set further away from Jane Austen College.

“However the building remains directly on the riverside so our concerns regarding the canyon effect in relation to the river remain.”

The Broads Authority says: “The scale, massing and positioning of the building, in close proximity to the river and Duke Street will have an overbearing effect on the River Wensum.”

However, Historic England is not objecting.

And, in documents lodged with City Hall, the applicants said: “It is considered that the benefits that this development will bring to regenerating this site, will also outweigh the limited impacts on the amenity of neighbouring properties.”

The application will come before the council’s planning committee in due course.

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