The University of Chichester has said it will be good neighbours after the green light was given for extra student accommodation on the former Chichester High School For Girls site in Stockbridge Road.
Plans for the 88-room hall of residence by SVO Developments Ltd were agreed by Chichester District Council’s southern area development control committee.
Conservationists and residents had objected to the plans on the grounds of noise late at night, but there were no objections from the city council or the Chichester Society.
Chairman of the Conservation Area Advisory Committee, Alan Green said the fine arts and crafts interior of the 1909 building would be ‘gutted’ in order to cram in the required number of rooms.
Cllr Tony Dignum said it was a notable building, but no-one had suggested a viable alternative use since it was vacated by the county council, which had been unable to sell it with the benefit of permission for 18 flats. It had fallen into decay over the years.
The university was falling over backwards to minimise the risk of disturbance. The economic benefits to the city from students was enormous, and the district council should be doing everything it could to encourage the college and the university to be viable.
If students were not housed in purpose-built accommodation, more and more houses in the city would be converted for multiple occupation.
“No-one has suggested a better use for this site – it is a wonderful opportunity for the city’s students,” he added.
A university spokesman said: The buildings will be actively managed by our residential services team, who have an established track record in managing off-campus accommodation blocks.
“We already have off-campus properties to the north and east of the city, and we take pride in being good neighbours and playing an active part in those communities, dealing with any issues swiftly and effectively. Residential Services staff will regularly be on site at Stockbridge Road, and we see engagement with local residents as a key part of their role to ensure we play our part as responsible members of the community.”
Recommending approval, planning officers said the scheme was an opportunity to secure the future of a much-valued building that made a significant contribution to the character of this city gateway.
Residents’ concerns were noted, but subject to various planning conditions they said the impact should not be unacceptable.