Previously reported opposition to the conversion of Beaufort House in New North Road to 107 room student accommodation has been approved by officers’ delegated powers without being presented to the Planning Committee for consideration despite residents’ objections and the opposition of our local city councillors.
The key issue on which refusal could be argued – community imbalance in St James – was dismissed by the Officer’s Report for the Delegation Briefing with this astonishing admission:
The City Council does not currently define community imbalance in any planning documents. … The lack of definition makes it difficult to provide evidence that the proposal fails to comply with policy.
The relevant policy, H5 of the Local Plan (2005), was designed to ensure diversity of housing provision but over time the development of student housing in St James has far outstripped that of all other demographic groups. Far from ensuring a sustainable diverse community, planning decisions have been leading towards further student ghettoisation in direct contravention to the central thrust of our Neighbourhood Plan: the desire of residents to have a diverse population which includes people at all stages of their lives and which is not dominated by a single group.
The Planning Officer’s Report suggests consideration is to be given to a new definition of community balance in a forthcoming review of policy. Dismayed at the failure of the City Council to stem the tide of community imbalance the Trust would urge residents and other interested parties to make their views clear whenever consultation over this promised review takes place.