Extra student flats at once popular Northampton walk-through still pending

"The proposal provides an opportunity to bring into use the currently disused first floor of The Ridings Arcade building"

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 7:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 9:39 am

Planning permission to build 22 student flats in The Ridings Arcade was given the go-ahead back in 2017.

The applicant, Fernbrook Builders, was granted full planning permission by Northampton Borough Council three-and-a-half-years ago, in October 2017, to build the 22 "high-quality" student flats on the first floor of The Ridings Arcade.

In a design and access statement submitted by the applicant in 2017, it states explains the positive aspects of the conversion.

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The Ridings Arcade

The statement reads: "The proposal provides an opportunity to bring into use the currently disused first floor of The Ridings Arcade building, providing student accommodation that will improve the vitality and viability of the town centre, and provide clear public benefits to the area.

"The proposed development would be entirely acceptable in this sustainable town centre location and would complement other upper floor residential accommodation in the surrounding area.

"No changes are proposed to the building’s Art Deco style tiled façade to St Giles Street, which is contained on the council’s local list of historic and architectural merit, and which has a positive impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding Derngate Conservation Area.

"The proposal is designed to a high-quality standard, providing adequate access, internal space and on-site facilities for future residents, and successfully integrates with surrounding development.

Drawings of the plans

"The proposal would provide an acceptable level of amenity for future residents, without having a detrimental impact on the amenities of neighbouring residents and occupiers.

"The proposed alterations necessary to convert the building for student accommodation are predominantly internal in nature, with external alterations comprising of a new access from The Ridings, utilising part of an existing cladded shopfront, as well as the formation of new windows, the majority of which positioned where previous windows at the site have been blocked up."

There would be no car park at the site but 22 bicycle spaces have been earmarked for the students.

Then in January 2020 a revised planning application was submitted to add two extra rooms in at the site, bringing the total up to 24.

Drawings of the plans

In a design and access statement architects Sursham Tompkins, which was submitted on behalf of Fernbrook Builders, it states that the additional rooms are "minor in scale".

The document reads: "This application seeks approval for minor changes on approval ref: N/1027/1367 to the internal layout at first floor level in order to accommodate 2no. additional student rooms to give a total of 24 rather than 22 stipulated in the approval. It should be noted that:

"We therefore believe the alternations to the approved scheme are minor in scale and nature and respectfully request that they are considered for approval."

Full planning permission was granted in April 2020 for the extra two bedrooms, which have now all been converted into accommodation.

Drawings of the plans

Then, in September 2020, the applicant submitted a part-retrospective planning application to convert two empty retail units in The Ridings Arcade to student flats instead of just the one, bringing the total of flats up to 28.

A decision is yet to be made on the extra four rooms.

Fernbrook Builders said: "The application to convert into 24 rooms completed 12 months ago, the application to convert a further four on the ground floor application pending."