A CONTROVERSIAL scheme for 88 self-contained student units in Winchester has been approved.

The plans which have caused anger in Sparkford Road and Erskine Road close to the University of Winchester main campus have now been approved by Winchester City Council despite objections from residents.

Both residents and councillors have had concerns that the five story block of flats would cause parking issues, attract anti-social behaviour and have a detrimental impact on the character of the area.

Councillor Lucille Thompson speaking on behalf of residents said that the scheme was 'inappropriate' and that the impact of an extra 88 students moving into the area needed careful consideration. "We all know the impact of students"

"It's still an attractive, leafy and until recently, quiet family neighbourhood. The area already has access issues and parking is already tight. 88 students will have cars whether we want them to or not. there is no plan in place as to how these needs will be considered. There needs to be a joined up plan with the university otherwise there will be more of these speculative plans."

Councillor Martin Tod questioned whether there was a need for this type of accommodation. "There has been a 5% drop in the number of students going to university, and more students are living at home. While others want to live in houses of multiple occupation because they need to drive."

"What's being proposed here is a magical housing mix of non noisy students and a helpline"

Antonio Lopez, COO of Developer Unilife said that they had listened to the concerns of residents. Stating that students tenancy agreements would include clauses regarding anti-social behaviour and noise, and that tenants that continually breached these clauses could be asked to leave. The flats would also be looked after by an onsite House manager who would live ten minutes from the site, and when not on site, would be on the end of the phone 24/7.

"Unilife is not competing to be the biggest we are here to provide a relationship. It's like a family where the onsite manager becomes the point of contact between students and residents. We don't use onsite wardens because we feel they are too authoritative and that students are there to spread their wings. A manager on the other hand is an authoritative figure but they are approachable. "

He continued: " We currently operate in Southampton and Portsmouth and have several students that have to travel to Winchester from Southampton because of a accommodation in the City"

Councillor Ian Tait who voted against the plans said: "It's the cart before the horse. I believe we are doing these communities a disservice. Yes, they are delivering High quality student accommodation but it's ad hoc. It's not planned"

Councillor Frank Pearson said:" The university can only house 32% of its students. There is a need, and frankly whether its private or provided by the university I don't think the students care. I see no reason, other than a lot of peripheral things as to why we should turn this down."

The final vote by the committee was a tie with Chairman, Councillor Laurence Ruffell casting the deciding vote to approve the application.