Students will soon be staying in a listed building in Henwick Road.

Permission has been granted to turn the YMCA building into a new halls of residence for students, and to build another block for rooms on the site.

Private student housing provider Purple Frog made the application for approval.

Planning officers told councillors on Worcester City Council’s Planning Committee that the new block: “is not a pastiche or a copy” of the distinctive Victorian gothic main building, but is “very sensitive to the site.”

Councillor Chris Cawthorne said: “Will this development, which is surrounded by houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), mean existing HMOs be returned to the market as family homes? If not, I’m concerned about the scheme, because the density is far too high. 

"If this was a house it wouldn’t pass the test. And as a consequence I can’t vote for it.

Fellow committee member Stuart Denlegh-Maxwell said he was concerned about the number of wardens to ensure good behaviour on site by students living there and added: ”With the growth of the university, we will need more high-class accommodation like this.”

Councillor Roger Berry added: “This is much better than more HMOs and has to be a great improvement on the current site.”

Councillor Mike Johnson, chairing the meeting, pointed out that the YMCA currently offered 83 rooms, so the plan increased the density of housing.

Worcestershire County Council highways officer Steve Hawley told Councillor Lynn Denham that his analysis suggested use as student accommodation would produce less traffic than use by YMCA as students would be living very close to their academic campus and would probably walk to classes. 

Councillor Louis Stephen said he was glad there was storage and parking for more than 150 bicycles and asked the University of Worcester to ask students not to bring a car to university.

The listed original building, dating from 1868, will be converted into rooms and communal space for 87 students.

A new building on the site, behind the original on Henwick Road, will be used for a further 67 student bedrooms.

The complex will also have a gym, a cinema room, laundry and communal lounge and study spaces.

The YMCA is using the money from the sale of the site to find its proposed purchase of the Sansome Walk swimming pool complex.

The plans were passed overwhelmingly by the committee.