It's good news for local residents as plans for 164 student beds on the Eye Infirmary site have been rejected by Plymouth City Council. This is a huge victory for our community campaign - thank you to all the residents who helped make the case against student accommodation on this site.
At the Planning Committee today I spoke on behalf of residents at the Planning Committee raising concerns about the lack of consultation from the developers, the unsuitability of the site for students and the impact on parking of the development. My remarks were informed by the three public meetings we held on the development and I'm very grateful to the residents who helped me craft my remarks so they reflected the views of the community.
Cllr Ricketts, the Tory Councillor for Drake ward, spoke against the development. He chose not to participate in the community campaign against the development but I was pleased to see him speak against the development. I hope he will now reassess his reluctance to work with Cllr Singh and myself for the good of the community - we need more cross-party working in Plymouth - the ball is in his court.
The City Councillors on the Planning Committee also heard a representative of the developer speak. The discussion on the development was interesting. The same issues were raised time and time again: parking, impact of additional students in the neighbourhood and visual impact of the design on the community.
Councillors voted twice on the applications before them. The first vote was to approve consent for work on the listed building. I support this - as do residents - so I was pleased that Councillors voted in favour of this. The second vote on the plans for new student accommodation were then voted on and I'm pleased to report that every councillor voted to reject plans for student accommodation.
What happens next?
There's three choices for the developer now: they can push ahead with the existing consent for flats in the older building and retirement properties in a new building. Alternatively they can learn lessons from this episode and begin a proper consultation with residents about a revised plan or they can sell the site to a new developer. I hope they take time to consider the views of local residents, something they failed to do so spectacularly on this occasion.
I hope Eagle One learn from today's decision. I hope other developers in the city were also watching. The lesson I hope they learn is simple: involve the community in your plans. Consult with local residents. Involve them in your plans and get their views.
After the success of this campaign, Cllr Chaz Singh and myself have agreed to hold regular meetings with residents about the Eye Infirmary. We need to make sure that residents remain informed about developments with the site and able to share their views on local matters. This campaign has helped bring the community together and that's a good thing.
We've won a major victory today. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this campaign.