PLANS to convert a former furniture factory into student accommodation have been recommended for approval, despite more than 500 letters of objection.
The plans to redevelop St Leonards House in Lancaster into 80 studio flats and a series of cluster flats will go before council planning chiefs on January 9.
Lancashire County Council, Lancaster University and local and national heritage organisations have expressed concern about the development, and the city council, which owns the Grade II building, has received 534 letters of objection.
The work will include a significant amount of demolition and alteration to the inside and outside of the building, including a replacement roof to create additional living accommodation.
Lancaster University has not objected to the proposal, but has raised concern about whether there is enough student demand for the development, and the fact that the development could trigger the loss of the university’s Sugarhouse Nightclub due to noise complaints from tenants.
Lancaster University Students’ Union has objected to the development for the same reason, saying more needs to be done to protect the Sugarhouse from noise complaints.
The union argued that people would no longer wish to study at Lancaster if the nightclub was to close.
It also opposed the redevelopment of the former Gillows building in North Road, which was granted planning permission for student flats earlier this month, on the same grounds.
Historic England has raised concerns regarding the level of intervention to the building, but has said that, whilst they consider the level of harm caused would be regrettable, they would raise no objection.
The Victorian Society and the Twentieth Century Society have objected to the proposals on heritage grounds, meaning the plan will need to be referred to the Secretary of State.
Lancaster Civic Society has also objected to the plans, although it welcomes the re-use of the building.
Lancashire County Council said traffic calming measures in St Leonards Gate would need to be made if it was to support the proposal.
Lancaster City Council’s planning officers concluded that the development will bring a significant listed building back into use, restoring and conserving its historic fabric which will help preserve the Conservation Area.
A final decision is set to be made when the planning committee meets later this month.