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Are too many student flats being built in Norwich city centre?

PUBLISHED: 08:40 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:40 23 July 2018

Pablo Fanque House, student accommodation which is being built in All Saints Green in Norwich. Pic: Archant.

Pablo Fanque House, student accommodation which is being built in All Saints Green in Norwich. Pic: Archant.

Archant

The surge in applications to build student housing in Norwich has prompted council bosses to investigate how much such development is appropriate in the city.

Hundreds of new student flats are being built in the city centre, with schemes such as Pablo Fanque House in All Saints Green and the former Aviva towers in St Stephens Street under way.

However, proposals for flats on the former Sentinel House car park in Surrey Street have twice been rejected by councillors.

And, at a meeting of Norwich City Council’s sustainable development panel, concerns were raised over whether too much such accommodation is being built in certain parts of the city.

David Fullman, Labour councillor for Mancroft, said: “It’s something that has worried me quite considerably. A large amount of this is in Mancroft ward and a lot more is in the pipeline there.

“The developers talk as if they are doing it philanthropically and that the upshot is that it will free up other housing for the local population, but when I ask them to prove that is the case, they have not been able to show me.”

Graham Nelson, head of planning at City Hall, said the council was looking into the issue.

He said: “We are doing a piece of work to understand where the appropriate limits of growth are.

“We’re working closely with the universities and are looking to bring something back in the autumn.”

Councillors asked Mr Nelson if that information would mean the council could come up with a policy which effectively stopped further student accommodation being built in certain areas.

But Mr Nelson said a national study showed that Norwich was actually quite low in the amount of purpose built student accommodation compared to other cities.

He said: “From what we understand about university growth ambitions and the fact that we appear to be towards the lower end of those national league tables, in terms of the amount of purpose built accommodation for students, we don’t think we would have grounds for a policy saying ‘no more, that’s enough’.

“But it will be down to the council as to whether we want to carry on with concentrating them in the city centre or whether we want a dispersal of growth.”

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