A 5-storey block of student flats has won the backing of York planners, despite concerns over the ‘cramped’ nature of the scheme and parts of its appearance being “monotonous and bland.”

The planning committee of City of York Council is recommended to approve the scheme on Foss Islands Road, with officers saying the public benefit of the student accommodation outweighs the loss of the historic Aubrey House, which would be demolished.

The scheme has been scaled down during the planning process and several rounds of consultation, following a 7-storey , 112-bedroom scheme being announced in July 2020.

Now, Urbanite, S & J D Robertson Group Ltd And Portman Land Ltd seek approval for a 5-storey block featuring 11 cluster flats providing 62 bed spaces and 19 studio flats, a communal room (42.6m2) and roof terrace.

If approved, each cluster flat would have a communal kitchen/dining/living space. The bedrooms in the cluster flats would be 12m2, the communal areas in the cluster flats would range between 20.1 – 30.6m2. The studio flats would range between 16 and 24.2m2.

A report prepared for the January 6 meeting says the site contains the 19th Century Aubrey House and is just south of the former Carpetright store, which has planning permission for a new 4-storey Premiere Inn, on which work has started.

The council’s conservation architect said the 19th Century buildings at the front of the site contributed to the setting of the area and noted the rooms “lack any generosity in plan form/space, and though residents are now offered an external terrace on the roof.”

The comment continued: “Consider the proposals to be an over development of such a narrow and constrained site, and do not believe it offers a high standard of living for future occupiers.”

The council report the original and earlier for the site considered the scheme was “overdevelopment of the site” with too large a footprint and buildings being too tall. But the six letters of objection was insufficient to prevent the scheme.

York had a growing student population, increasing from 22,069 in 2011 to 26,090 students enrolled at York St John University and the University of York in 2018/19, with growth set to continue.

Though accepting it would be similar in size to the Premiere Inn, officers noted “weakness in the scheme, notably the side and rear elevations which will appear particularly monotonous and bland due to the scale of the building.”

Their report continued: “The proposal represents an intensification of use of the site combined with the acknowledged impacts from noise and disturbance.”

But it “is not considered to result in undue overlooking or loss of privacy.”

Recommending approval, their report concluded the scheme met planning policies. The loss of Aubrey House would harm the setting of the nearby conservation area but the benefit of providing the student accommodation outweighed this.