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Student homes plan dubbed 'slum'
RELIEVED residents have won a reprieve in a long-running planning row over a contentious student block in Charminster.
On the day of a last-ditch plea to councillors to keep restrictive conditions on the Malmesbury Park Road development, civic planners instructed their enforcement officer to investigate claims that agreed plans had been flouted.
The block of around 40 study bedrooms was originally granted permission on the proviso that rooms could only be occupied by foreign students from the Kings School of English.
This restriction went some way to easing residents’ concerns that the development of small bedrooms, with shared facilities, would either become a “doss house” or an unwieldy university student block.
Planning board members were recommended to remove the reference to foreign students from Kings School of English. But concerned ward councillors Carol Ainge and Mark Anderson joined forces with local residents to oppose the change in conditions.
Cllr Ainge said the developer had failed to follow the agreed plans, claiming that the interior design of the block had been changed. She added: “It was meant to have eight flats on three floors, with a kitchen/dining/lounge area for each flat.
“These amenity areas have now been removed in favour of one large amenity area; we would not have known anything about this had I not asked for enforcement team to check. Can you imagine the noise 40 plus students would make, with inadequate cooking and seating facilities?”
Cllr Anderson said: “I’m appalled by the conditions this will create. We are not building the slums of the future; this is the slum.”
The application to remove the restrictive conditions was made by Malmesbury Estates, represented by planning consultant Ken Parke.
He described the development as “a significant enhancement” to the area, adding: “The bank is having a problem with conditions restricting accommodation. As far as planning law is concerned a student is a student.”
A move by board chairman Cllr David Kelsey to defer a decision on whether to keep the restrictive conditions, until the council receives a report from its enforcement officer, was carried by a unanimous vote.