Bristol student housing exposed to flood risk

Purpose-built 73-bedroom student housing in Bristol city centre was described as providing a dismal living environment by an inspector who also found other unacceptable aspects to the development.

The redevelopment site lay between a school and a high rise block of flats set within a spacious planned post-war residential estate described by the council as a non-designated heritage asset. The inspector judged that the new block of flats would close off views that contributed to the impression of spaciousness in the street scene and intrude on the open setting of an adjacnet tower block. The close proximity of the proposed development would also overshadow and overbear these existing flats, with an unacceptable loss of daylight and outlook. In addition, some of the new studios and cluster flats would have only north facing windows, creating dark and dismal rooms and a poor living environment.

The site lay in a flood risk area and the council considered the appellant’s sequential test looking for alternative sites at less risk of flooding in flood zone one only to be inadequate. Notwithstanding this, the Environment Agency objected that the proposed self-contained living accommodation on the ground floor could pose a risk to life in the event of a flood. So whether or not the proposal passed a sequential test, the inspector decided the development would not be safe in respect of flooding.

The inspector acknowledged a shortfall of student accommodation in the city and accepted that the development would ease pressure on family housing, along with other benefits of a sustainable location close to shops and services and an efficient use of previously developed land. However, these benefits did not outweigh the flood risk and other harm to area character and residential amenity, in the inspector’s view, and she dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Siobhan Watson; Written representations

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