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Student flats get go-ahead despite protests
CONTROVERSIAL plans for 33 new student flats in Worcester City centre have been approved – despite angry traders protesting against it.
Council chiefs have allowed the proposal for the bedsits at 17-19 Mealcheapen Street to go ahead.
Stourbridge-based developer Tony Rowbottom has secured permission to turn the empty office units into accommodation. It comes despite objections from nearby shopkeepers, who said it would “drag the area down” and affect trade.
One of the main protestors was Dominic Tunnell Opticians, which is based at 6 Mealcheapen Street.
Julie Drew Hairdressing was also against the bid, as was F Durrant and Son and the Paint Box.
Keith Marshall-Walker, of the Paint Box, said: “I certainly don’t consider it good news for the street.
“When you consider the amount of rubbish we get down the street now, when we come in for the morning it might be a completely different kettle of fish.
“I’m in favour of the building being used for something as opposed to it just rotting, but not this.”
There was already existing permission for 30 bedsits at the site, but the owners wanted approval for 33, which is why it was decided upon by council officers in private and did not go to a vote at the planning committee.
The street is a conservation area, but the developers say they will make sure it does not detract from its character. Mr Rowbottom said: “The rooms are smart, there will be CCTV all over and we will not allow smoking.”
An approval statement from Worcester City Council said it was “an acceptable standard of design” and officers were happy for it to go ahead.
The statement said: “It was considered, on balance, the proposed development would be of an acceptable standard of design and detailing and that it would preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area within which the property is situated.”
The approval statement also said it is in line with the council’s development guidelines.