Cardiff Council gave developers the go-ahead to build 477 new student bedrooms this afternoon, with the city’s planning committee approving two major developments within half a mile of one another.
Councillors gave the green light to a block of 279 bedrooms on land at Oxford Street in Roath, with construction firm LG Urban Developments saying the “upmarket” scheme would be tailored to international and postgraduate students.
Just half an hour later, the committee also approved the refurbishment of Shand House on Newport Road – formerly the Cardiff Institute for the Blind – which will be turned into 198 student flats and three ground floor retail units.
The Oxford Road development will be a four-storey building, painted in primary colours, containing 279 postgraduate student bedrooms. The building will be arranged around a central courtyard and have a small café.
No student parking will be provided, and residents told the committee they feared this would lead to an overspill into nearby side streets. One even branded the developer’s hope this would encourage students not to bring cars to the city as “naïve”.
Plasnewydd ward councillor Mary McGarry added she was concerned that during a recent site visit, the committee had not viewed the development site from nearby Wordsworth Avenue or Woodland Place, whose Georgian houses are in a conservation area.
She said: “If this building goes ahead, we will look at these Georgian houses and there will be this big block behind. It will detract from the conservation area and look ridiculous.”
But committee member Coun Garry Hunt said decisions made by previous committees, granting permission for similar developments on the same site, meant the plans were difficult to refuse.
The proposals were approved on the condition the developer contributes £3,120 towards traffic orders, £147,816 towards open space in the area, and £114,390 towards community facilities.
The Shand House development – less than half a mile away on Newport Road – will include 198 student bedrooms in a mixture of double rooms, studios and flats, plus a common room, cinema room and courtyard.
JR Smart (Builders) Ltd will put an additional two storeys on to the building, taking it to a total of six storeys, and turn two existing retail units fronting on to Newport Road and Fitzalan Place into three units for retail, cafes and restaurants.
Officers said the scheme found a new use for a “prominent, under-utilised office block”, and the proposals were unanimously approved by the committee.