Hundreds blast plans for new student accommodation as buildings are an ‘eyesore’ and ‘too tall’

By Staff

More than 200 residents have blasted plans to build a new student accommodation block next to their homes because they fear it will drive property prices down and will be an ‘eyesore’ in their neighbourhood. The University of East London (UEL) has applied for planning permission with Newham Council so it can expand its Stratford campus and build uni halls for 650 students complete with new lecture rooms, learning areas and a nursery, gym and 660 cycle spaces.

According to council documents, UEL plans to build on two existing car parks to deliver a development ranging from three storeys to 16 storeys. The plans would deliver 27 studio flats and 623 single rooms complete with en-suite showers that will be split into flats and 35per cent would be ‘affordable’ student accommodation.

During the public consultation, 1,708 letters were sent to neighbouring properties informing people about the plans. The plans received just five letters of support compared to an overwhelming amount of objectors including a petition backed by 170 people and a letter signed on behalf of 19 addresses at Torrens Square, as well as 27 objections.

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Responses have been made public in documents ahead of a meeting with the council’s strategic development committee next week (February 20). Those in support of the application praised the plans because they said an increased student population would increase footfall and ‘revitalise’ local businesses.

Another person argued student accommodation and teaching space for UEL was a good thing, and that students won’t have to commute long distances which would help the environment. However some people are against the plans because they said the buildings would be too tall and an ‘eyesore’, and were worried that they would lose daylight and privacy.

One person said: “We will lose the quiet neighbourhood, community feel with the addition of 650 students to this campus.” Another person said the development would ‘devalue our houses’ and had concerns that students might have noisy parties or play loud music.

On noise concerns, planning officers said students won’t be be able to play loud music on terraces or roof spaces as part of planning conditions. On concerns that some of the buildings are too tall, officers said it was ‘on balance, supported’ and said the tallest building would act as ‘a focal point/landmark to the UEL campus to consolidate its presence’.

However the council’s strategic design team had concerns about the tall buildings and advised UEL to reduce the height of the building during the pre-application stage – but this was ignored by the university. A letter was also received from the branch secretary on behalf of members of UNISON the union at UEL, who are concerned about losing two car parks which are used by a number of staff who drive to work.

Part of the letter reads: “We have surveyed our members and received over 100 replies in opposition to this outcome. We welcome some of the building plans but not if that means we lose our car parks. Eight disabled parking bays are provided but this is for staff and student use; we have more than eight students who require disabled parking.”

In response to the union’s complaints, UEL said it has ‘extensively engaged’ with staff and said the campus is well served by public transport including Maryland, a station on the Elizabeth Line and Stratford train station as well as a number of bus routes. Newham Council’s strategic development committee have been advised to approve the plans, with council officers praising the plans because it will deliver ‘affordable student accommodation’ on a university campus.

They said the plans would also provide: “…new enhanced educational facilities, the creation of new high quality landscaping and public realm in a dense urban environment.”

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