A PLANNING inspector has dealt a blow to civic policy by upholding an appeal for flats for more that 100 students on a suburban street.

The plans for two student blocks, of 28 flats with 134 beds, on Greenhill Road, near the junction with Sarum Road, had been rejected at committee in 2017.

There were 133 objections to the scheme largely from local people.

But developer JLW Winchester appealed and inspector Ian Bowen, after an inquiry, has agreed.

In his decision ruling, said: “The plans show that whilst larger in scale than the dwellings it would replace, the proposed development would nevertheless be set back from both Greenhill Road and Sarum Road retaining open space which would be landscaped to both frontages.”

Former city councillor Ian Tait voted in favour of the plans with five other councillors in 2017. Now a planning consultant, he said: ‘This shows that high-quality, purpose-built student accommodation has a vital role to play in Winchester and will reverse the loss of family housing to HMOs in areas like Stanmore and Winnall.

Hampshire Chronicle:

“I’m a strong supporter of the university however I feel that the Council have let residents down by not planning for sufficient high quality student accommodation like that proposed for Greenhill Road. If this had happened then we wouldn’t have seen the loss of so much family housing from areas like Stanmore and Winnall. I am also surprised that the local Ward councillors spoke against the proposals when one could hardly find a site closer to the university”.

Local Lib Dem councillor Martin Tod said: “Clearly, I’m disappointed. We’re paying the price for the city council not having worked through planning policies for student housing and halls of residence in the city - including what areas are suitable and what areas aren’t. We’ve been pushing to get action on this for some time, and work is now starting, but it’s clear now that it needs to be given much more urgency.”

The developer argued warden-managed halls are preferable to students occupying rented houses, which have caused issues in other areas of Winchester like Stanmore.

The issue of students and where they live in Winchester has been an ongoing issue, with areas in the city like Stanmore having problems with homes in multiple occupation, but applications for student blocks being heavily objected to.

Within the plans there are just two parking spaces, and at the committee in 2017 councillor Brian Laming said the lack of parking could cause “mayhem” when students arrive.

Jeremy Gardiner from JLW Winchester said the scheme is much-needed because of the expansion of the University of Winchester, and is an ideal site due to its proximity to the campus.

He said students will be prevented from parking cars by a tenancy agreement which will be enforced. The applicant admitted there had not been a wide consultation, which was one of the many issues residents have concerns about.

Residents feared there will be anti-social parking despite university students being advised not to drive in Winchester.