A 12-storey student accommodation block behind a luxury riverside development in Sunderland has been given the go-ahead despite objections.
A number of workshop units will be demolished to make way for the £20million, 363 unit accommodation block at Bonnersfield in Monkwearmouth.
Sunderland City council’s North Sunderland Development Control Sub-Committee voted unanimously to permit the scheme.
Once built, the high-rise will overshadow the privately owned apartments in the Bonners Raff development.
The purpose-built student block will have 314 studios and 40 larger two-bedroom flats, six one-bedroom flats and three accessible flats.
There will be 42 car parking spaces for occupiers of the two-bedroom flats, 159 cycle spaces, a student common room, study rooms, a games room, dance studios, gymnasium, a café/ restaurant/ bar, a retail unit, and refuse and recycling facilities.
This is one of the best quality student accommodation I can recall in the last three years I have sat on these committeesCoun Michael Mordey
The gym, dance studio, café and retail elements will be available to non-residents.
Those objecting to the scheme have raised concerns that falling student numbers could lead to a different demographic being housed in the block, citing problems arising from the Echo24 development on the other side of the river.
The applicant - Butlers Walsall Ltd - says it will work closely with Sunderland University and that it is not in the company’s interest to let that happen to its multi-million pound investment, and that the building would be carefully managed.
Coun Denny Wilson said: “We’ve seen these developments deteriorate in the past with the transient population. The area gets run down and trashed for want of a better word. The management is very important – we don’t live in an ideal world.”
However, Robert Dibden, senior planner at Lichfields, said the building would not house anyone other than students.
He said a new student population would contribute further to the regeneration of the area and said the applicant was engaging with the university to address concerns about the decline in student numbers.
The planning report also said more purpose-built student accommodation is already benefitting local people, as it frees up cheaper properties, like houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) to non-students.
Objectors further disagreed with the scale of the development, and raised concerns about potential noise, disturbance, and how the building would be managed. There were also safety fears over objects that could be thrown from the roof terrace.
A petition against the plans as well as eight objection letters were received by the committee.
However, Coun Michael Mordey said: “This is one of the best quality student accommodation I can recall in the last three years I have sat on these committees.
“The key to success is the management plan.”