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Builder to revive plans for flats labelled 'gloomy' appeal bid as council gives other scheme the green light.

Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local democracy reporter @danhollandnews

A DEVELOPER is plotting to revive rejected plans for a new city centre apartment block - after seeing a competing project get the green light.

Newcastle City Council's planning committee gave its backing to a 12-storey student flat development in St James' Boulevard, after concerns over a lack of light for future residents caused months of delays.

That decision sparked confusion from the owners of neighbouring land in Heber Street, whose own 13-storey tower block design was knocked back in April when the council criticised its "poorly lit, dark and gloomy" conditions.

But they are now hopeful that they can successfully overturn the council's rejection of those plans on appeal and press ahead with their 179-flat development, believing that the council has "categorically said" that it will take a less strict view on daylight standards.

Kevin Northey, of Heber Street Limited, said: "The main thing we have taken from Friday is that the city is going to be more flexible now.

"If our plan was coming up for decision now instead of six months ago then it would go ahead."

Mr Northey says that his firm has "no alternative" but to stick with their previous designs for the tower block, next to the Newcastle Helix site, and that the possibility of them adding bigger bedroom windows would only make a "marginal" difference.

He added: "The council has clearly had a change of heart and in the last six months they have obviously started to appreciate that the daylight and sunlight guidelines are just that: guidelines. They need to have a degree of flexibility."

Council planning boss Kath Lawless told councillors on Friday that a decision on what light levels are acceptable "comes down to planning judgement".

She said: "It is not if something does not get to the recognised standards that it automatically fails.

"What members need to assess is whether the levels of amenity for the accommodation are acceptable, taking into account the guidance.

"We don't expect all of the rooms to pass all of the standards.

"I don't think we have ever had one scheme in the city centre that has passed 100%."

Nixon Homes' plans for the 230 student flats next to the Sandman Hotel were approved unanimously by councillors on Friday.

Their representatives dismissed objections from Heber Street Limited as a "smoke screen" and said there was "no issue" with light levels.

Having redesigned their plans for the site following criticism from the council earlier this year, Nixon now says that 98% of the block will now have acceptable light levels - and the only rooms that will not are communal areas, not bedrooms.


A CGI of the planned student accommodation on St James' Boulevard

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 21, 2019
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