Major student housing development approved amid concern from undergraduates

Simon Oakley was among the councillors to support the plans
Simon Oakley was among the councillors to support the plans
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A major student housing development was approved today - despite safety concerns raised by university undergraduates (Wednesday, March 1).

The University of Chichester Students’ Union objected to plans by private firm Osborne to deliver up to 521-bed spaces on brownfield land at Portfield Quarry and UMA House, in Oving.

Objections included concerns over the safety of students travelling the two kilometre route to the university campus, while the need for purpose-built accommodation was questioned.

A report to Chichester District Council’s planning committee read: “The provision of purpose-built student accommodation within the city is identified by the local plan as an issue which needs to be addressed during the current plan period.”

Councillors were advised students living in private rented homes throughout the city was adding ‘increased pressure’

But Anne Elliott, speaking on behalf of union president Luke Sheavyn, said: “Students generally prefer to live as part of the community and be part of the community.”

Mrs Elliott said the union had concerns about the suitability of the site, close to the A27.

It argued analysis of the demand for student accommodation was ‘fundamentally flawed’, adding it expected a greater increase in student numbers at the university’s Bognor Regis campus, where a multi-million technology park has been approved.

Shopwyke Road resident Jeremy Matcham called for an independent study to verify the numbers. He said the university currently had around 3,500 students and just 700 of which were in private rented accommodation.

He questioned what would happen to the site if it turned out the extra beds were not needed.

Councillors Richard Plowman and Mike Hall voted against the plans.

But the 12 other members of the community welcomed the plans.

Councillor Tricia Tull argued the proposal was better than reviving employment use at the site. She said houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) often caused ‘misery’ for residents.

Tangmere’s Simon Oakley said there was a ‘clear need’ for managed accommodation and having a good supply enabled extra capacity to absorb uplifts in numbers.

He said: “With all statistics we can make various judgments about what is and what is not relevant but we do have the fact that a significant amount of student accommodation is housing within existing residential areas.”