Controversial plans to add a first-floor extension to a former Chichester pub to provide another four student bedrooms were approved by district councillors – in the face of strong warnings about student parking and general traffic congestion already affecting the area.
Permission for a change of use at the former Mainline Tavern, in Whyke Road, into accommodation for 19 students was given in 2009, and has since been implemented.
The latest decision will bring the number there up to 23.
The building is close to a level-crossing, where lengthy traffic delays are the norm.
In approving the planning application, by 11 votes to three, the district’s southern area development control committee agreed to add a condition stipulating that a car park next to the building should be surfaced and marked out to provide as many spaces as possible.
Geoff King, chairman of Whyke Residents’ Association, said development had already increased the population of the area, adding to parking problems, and there was ‘acute congestion’ several times a day, particularly at school dropping-off and picking-up times.
There were already a number of houses locally being used for student accommodation.
Cllr Anne Scicluna, who represents the local area, told the committee: “We welcome students, but it is the cars that are the problem. These small streets can’t take any more. It upsets the residents and puts them against students, whom they should be welcoming.”
Cllr Michael Woolley said demand for parking already exceeded the space available. Extension of a nearby residents’ parking zone would considerably alleviate the problem.
Cllr Fred Robertson said there was a cumulative parking problem here, and the situation was already criticial.
Cllr Martyn Bell said: “This is an area packed by cars. The area is severely congested, and any additional requirement makes it even more congested and dangerous.”
Chichester City Council called for the scheme to be rejected because of over-development of the site and the likely increase in traffic congestion and additional on-street parking in adjoining roads.
Recommending approval, a report by planning officers said the proposals would bring benefits in terms of much-needed student accommodation to the city.