Controversial plans for 500 student flats on Northampton town centre car park could be approved

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to build almost 500 student flats on a Northampton town centre car park could be approved by councillors next week.

The University of Northampton revealed plans to build 464 flats on the St John’s open air car park, close to the Royal & Derngate theatre, in September last year.

The plans upset people who live nearby, who claim the development would cause noise and disturbance, reduce the value of their homes and cause parking problems in the town centre.

But in a report which is due to be seen by members of Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee next week, council planning officer Reddy Nallamilli said the flats would not harm the area.

He said: “The provision of purpose-built student accommodation in the town centre is seen as a positive thing for its vitality and viability and would also increase the attractiveness of the university to potential students.”

He added: “The development would respect the character and appearance of the Derngate conservation area and would not significantly impact on surrounding occupiers.”

The planning official also revealed that in response to the concerns of people who live close to the site, the university had agreed to make sure there would be staff at the building 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including a minimum of two security staff, who would be supported on busy nights by bouncers.

Welcoming the moves. Mr Nallamilli said: “It is recognised and accepted that this development has the potential to increase the amount of inconsiderate behaviour in the immediate vicinity of the development, particularly in the early hours of the morning when students will be making their way home from a night out.

“The main entrance into the building is considered to be the focus for any disruption to local residents and it is therefore imperative that effective management of this space is provided by both an adequate on-site security presence and comprehensive CCTV coverage.”

Despite the moves by the university to police the building, almost 100 people have written to the council to object to the plans. Three petitions against the development have also been submitted to the council.

The development would lead to the loss of the 150-space St John’s open air car park. Only five parking spaces would be provided in the new building, which would rise to a maximum of seven storeys.

The council’s planning committee will meet at the Guildhall from 6pm on Tuesday April 3 to decide if the development should be allowed.