A MAJOR new student accommodation scheme proposed for a former school site near Chichester was given the go-ahead by district planners.
But strong reservations were expressed at a meeting of the southern area development control committee about road safety issues and lack of public transport – and there was a warning the development could turn out to be an unwanted white elephant.
The plan, to convert old classrooms at the former Littlemead School, in Tangmere Road, Tangmere, into 28 bedrooms for 31 students, was put forward by Brooks Brothers.
Councillors voted 11-1 in favour of approving it.
The committee was told the location formed the last remaining undeveloped part of the wider Littlemead School site.
There was strong opposition from Oving Parish Council, which said it was on a busy road with no footpaths or pavements, and severe visibility problems day and night.
Area planning manager Peter Filtness said an application was previously refused on the advice of West Sussex County Council, partly on the basis the site was in an unsustainable location in highway terms, given its relative separation from the city centre.
However, the county council had now reconsidered, and had changed its mind.
Mr Filtness said this was not a sustainable location, but on the other hand there used to be a school there, which certainly attracted a lot of car traffic, and there was a strong need for student accommodation.
He shared some members’ concerns about safety on dark, unlit roads with no footways.
But it was for the county council to judge whether it was safe, and it was not objecting.
They had been told by the university there was still a serious shortage of managed student accommodation.
“I think this is a case where the benefits outweigh the harm,” Mr Filtness added.