Today is decision day for the Eye Infirmary campaign. At 4pm today Councillors will hear the arguments made in favour and against the plans to convert part of the Eye Infirmary site in Drake ward into student accommodation for over 160 students. Together with Cllr Chaz Singh, I've been leading a campaign with residents to oppose this development.
It is important to state that we are not opposed to new student accommodation. Indeed, we have supported the new blocks that are currently being built on Plymouth University's campus and in the city centre. The key is whether the proposed development is in the right location and, having looked at the plans and spoken to residents, we believe that the Eye Infirmary site is the wrong location for such a large block of student housing.
You can read the objection letter Chaz and I sent to the City Council about Eagle One's proposed development at the Eye Infirmary here.
Cllr Chaz Singh and myself will be speaking at the Planning Committee at 4pm opposing the development. Although he hasn't been part of the residents' campaign against the Eye Infirmary development we understand Cllr Steve Ricketts, the Tory Councillor for the ward, will also be opposing the development.
You can watch the planning committee live online via Plymouth City Council's webcast system here.
Having held three public meetings on this issue, consulted hundreds of local residents, delivered four sets of leaflets to the area and knocked on countless doors there is a clear message from residents that I hope the Planning Committee will hear and find convincing: this is the wrong location for more student housing.
The area is already saturated with student housing. It has gone beyond a tipping point to the extent that more development aimed at the student market is having a detrimental impact on the quality of life for local residents. The City Council has recognised this and placed Article IV protection on the area meaning that landlords can no longer convert family homes into student lets without planning permission. This is to preserve local housing stock and also to preserve the balance of housing types in the area. I support this measure and have worked with Cllr Singh to oppose unsuitable HMO conversions in our area.
If you are free at 4pm please come along to the City Council's Council House (next to the Civic Centre in the City Centre) to watch from the public gallery or watch it online. We have a strong argument and I hope Councillors recognise this and oppose this development.
Chaz and myself will post reaction to the decision later today but if you have any views on it please get in touch. Thank you.