Canterbury City Council’s decision to refuse a student flat scheme on the Ring Road could expose it to a costly planning appeal, a senior politician has warned.
Cllr Nick Eden-Green was a member of the planning committee which turned down the application to build the 146-bedroom structure on the site of the former St Mary Bredin School.
Voting 7-4 against, the committee rejected the advice of planning officers who recommended the scheme designed by architect Guy Hollaway be approved.
Cllr Eden-Green, who represents Wincheap for the Lib Dems, says he is satisfied the application was turned down for valid reasons.
He said: “I felt enough had been opened up in the debate to give adequate grounds for refusal.
“The overall grounds I gave centred on the fact that the building does not preserve or enhance the conservation area.
“The proposal does harm by virtue of its design, its scale, its massing and its materials. In other words, it’s the wrong building in the wrong place and of the wrong size.
“I’m not fearful that it could go to appeal, but it’s possible that it could. I would very much hope, however, that Guy Hollaway would come back with a more sympathetic scheme.
“This is isn’t about the building’s purpose as student accommodation – although that’s another debate.
“But if there’s going to be an appeal, then it’s going to be a big one.”
At Tuesday night’s debate Conservative Cllr George Metcalfe, a former Lord Mayor of Canterbury, described the scheme as visually “disgusting”.
He added: “We should be conscious of just how precious our history is and how important it is to preserve it.”
Mr Hollaway told the committee that there was no reason to retain the former school, which shut in the 1930s and has most recently been used as the offices for a car dealership.
He said: “The existing building is not viable. The building we are proposing has been designed over a long period of time. We want it to reflect the architecture of Canterbury in a modern way.”
The council’s head of planning Simon Thomas warned the planning committee that the authority could face legal costs if the scheme is challenged on appeal.