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Student let expansion approved despite 'ghetto' claims from residents
A STUDENT property in St John's has won permission to expand - despite 27 objections from furious residents about litter, congestion and late night parties.
Worcester City Council's planning committee has agreed that 91 Comer Road can become an eight-bed student let rather than six beds.
The relatively minor change was voted through despite fierce objection from the local community and all three city councillors representing St Johns.
Ahead of the meeting people living in three different streets had urged them to reject it, and one turned up at the committee to speak.
Alan John, who lives in Comer Road, said students have had "a dramatic impact" on St John's and "the character of the area is being eroded".
"I've lived here for 24 years and raised my family here," he said.
"There are already a significant number of multiple-let properties in the area, this is neither necessary or justified."
Among the letters was one from resident Graham Galbraith, who said: "It is apparent to everyone, house-owning residents and observers that Comer Road is already over-populated by students."
He said street parking is now "impossible" and St John's was "sliding into a ghetto-like state".
Fellow neighbour Peter Davis wrote that litter, "drunken arguments" in the early hours, other noise and congestion has become typical.
Others cited frequent slamming of doors from taxis, partying and the placing of refuse bins as other problems.
Three councillors objected including Councillor Richard Udall, who warned about "damaging long term consequences" to St John's because of rapid growth in student lets. During the meeting Russell Milner, the landlord, turned up to speak and said: "I don't see car use as increasing - it's too expensive to run a car anyway, most students walk or cycle.
"Many of the neighbours have my number and I've never had one complaint."
He said it first because a student house just over three years ago and he was prepared to act upon any complaints if he gets them.
From next month the city council is bringing in a new rule called Article 4, which means student or multiple let housing will be limited to 10 per cent of a ward's total property stock.
During the committee meeting, councillors were told it would have made no difference with this application as it is already a student house.
Councillor Paul Denham said: "I absolutely understand the concerns of local people, which is why we're bringing in these rules.
"But it wouldn't change a thing here. This is two extra people in a very large building, we've got no powers or reasonable grounds to refuse it."
Councillor Andy Roberts said: "One planning objection we have to consider is 'overtensification', but this doesn't appear to be the case here as it's two extra bedrooms."
It was voted through unanimously.