Performance group saved as student flats rejected

Developers have been refused planning permission to build an eight-storey flat of student flats.

Dominus applied to Bristol City Council for permission to build student flats with more than700 beds on Sussex Street in the St Philips area.

The plans would have included building a new community centre and a supermarket, but could have forced local arts organisation The Invisible Circus to move.

Councillors on the development control B committee voted to refuse permission for the new homes on Wednesday, reported the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

They said the area should be protected for industrial uses, and raised concerns about the poor quality living conditions for students living in the flats.

Speaking to the committee, Nola Hersey, chair of the Dings Community Association, said: “The proposed scheme incorporates a community space, a safer way to cross Kingsland Road, and importantly for many of our residents, access to an affordable supermarket.

"An industrial unit on this site will provide no obvious community benefit, but instead brings the risk of traffic pollution, noise and congestion.”

Preet Ahluwalia, principal director at Dominus, added: “My father arrived in the UK as a refugee and he always appreciated the sanctuary that the UK gave him. So when he started our family business, he always sought to give back.

"That’s why we started the development by asking the community what they need most and incorporating that into our business plan.”

But planning officers said there would be an overall reduction of employment space, in part of the city where jobs should be protected.

And the Invisible Circus warned that building student flats risked the city’s reputation for fostering creativity.

Kathryn Chiswell-Jones, from the Artspace Lifespace charity, said: “The Invisible Circus is a key cultural institution in Bristol.

"We’re concerned that more student accommodation at the expense of creative space risks eroding Bristol’s creative core.

"Losing Unit 15 means losing the capacity to develop specialist aerial acts, risking Bristol’s reputation as a circus city.”

The committee voted seven to two in favour of refusing planning permission.

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