The former St Mary Bredin School on the Ring Road will not be torn down and replaced with student flats.
Canterbury City Council’s planning committee tonight rejected planning permission, but the council’s head of planning Simon Thomas has warned the council could face legal costs if the scheme is challenged on appeal.
The school, which had most recently been used as the office for a used car business, was to make way for 146 student bedrooms in 17 “cluster flats”.
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Critics said the new buildings would create a tunnel of high rise building in Rhodaus Town and meant the loss of an attractive historic building.
Liberal Democrat county councillor Ida Lingfield argued: “There’s no other building like this in Canterbury.
“This building is part of Canterbury’s history. You need to think carefully before you pass it.”
Councillor George Metcalf (Conservative) added: “We should be conscious of just how precious our history is and how important it is to preserve.”
In support of the planned development, architect Guy Holloway 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.
“We want this building to last more than 100 years.”
The St Mary Bredin School was built in the 1860s and ceased to be a school in the 1930s.
There were also concerns that there will be an over abundance of student rooms in Canterbury.
A report which went before the committee stated that the owner and applicant, Canbury Holdings, is the same firm behind the neighbouring Palamon Court student development.
“[The] scheme is described as an annex to that development, with the two sites, for example, sharing the same management company and a number of amenities such as basement cycle parking,” says the report.
“The service access route for Palamon Court will also serve this development. The scheme will be car free and a legal agreement would prevent students bringing cars into the site, other than at term start and finish.”
Among those objecting to the scheme was Canterbury City Council’s own heritage department.
It said: “The proposal would result in harm to the Canterbury conservation area and result in the loss of a characterful and attractive former school.”
Numerous individual as well as the Canterbury Society also criticised the proposal. Society chairman Jan Pahl questioned why it needed to be so tall, adding that it threatened to significantly change the city’s urban landscape.
It also called for a full archaeological excavation of the site.
The proposal was rejected seven to four.