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A total of 120 student flats have been approved for the Barretts site

“No evidence student blocks free up family homes”

A senior Canterbury city councillor has warned there is no evidence building student blocks frees up homes for families.

Labour group leader Alan Baldock told last night’s planning committee that schemes such as the 120-bedroom plan for the Barretts site in St Peter’s have no impact in making properties elsewhere in the city available for long-term residents.

The committee approved the scheme eight votes in favour with none against and three abstentions.

But it comes against a backdrop of mounting concern about the proliferation of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) in Canterbury being driven by landowners and developers.

It has been argued that if more students lived in their own blocks, they would rent fewer properties in residential streets meaning these would be added to the supply available to families and other long-term residents.

Cllr Alan Baldock

Cllr Baldock, who represents the heavily student populated Northgate ward, rejected this claim.

He said: “I’m perplexed as to why we keep reeling out the reason that student blocks release family homes which are currently homes in multiple occupancy.

“We have no proof that student accommodation has released even one home for families.

“I’m incredibly disappointed that no housing has been included in the Barretts site.

“We are losing a sustainable location for families to live.”

Lib Dem Nick Eden-Green, who represents Wincheap, accepted that the council little power to turn down such applications.

“This again comes down to the poverty of the Local Plan,” he told the committee. “The Plan is completely unhelpful in dealing with this rash of accommodation.

“And I feel very strongly that we should not be putting student accommodation in prime – classically prime – locations such as this.”

Last month, the planning committee rejected a proposal to build more student flats on the Ring Road on the site of the former St Mary Bredin School.

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