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The Sugarhouse Alley development plans were dealt a knockback when the Planning and Highways committee voted to maintain the noise conditions that campaigners have branded essential for the survival of the Sugarhouse. With eleven councillors voting against and the other three abstaining, the condition which would have freed up developer Cityblock to pursue a development plan with soundproofing “at the technical limits” of acceptable noise levels, has been scrapped. But the developers have stated they will appeal – so what next for the Sugarhouse?
Trevor Bargh, the CEO of Bargh Estates and CityBlock Ltd, made clear he considered the issue to be very much contested.
“Not for the first time, we are left disappointed that the planning committee is preventing us from rejuvenating a once loved, but now disused and run-down, building that could serve a great purpose. It is interesting to note that the planning officers support our position and demonstrated this at Monday’s committee meeting. But despite this, the committee has gone against the advice of its own officers.
“Our desire to go ahead with this development and have the condition amended, or entirely removed, will not stall. We will continue to appeal until we are granted permission to continue with this development, which will bring new life to the Gillows Building, and make it something Lancaster can be proud of again. Nothing else is preventing it from going ahead, other than the planning committee’s insistence on this invalid planning condition.”
The news follows a sustained campaign from the Lancaster Students Union, who have branded the decision a “victory for common sense”. It was revealed in SCAN that the Students Union had threatened the council with legal proceedings should the conditions be removed.
At the time of the vote Union President Joshua Woolf welcomed “a victory for common sense”. He had given an impassioned speech opposing the removal of the condition alongside the three university ward city councillors.
“The proposed variation completely dilutes the substance of the condition. It removes any safeguard for the Council…Students have every right to quiet enjoyment of their homes. What guarantee can this Committee give that the development’s noise attenuation will achieve what it says it will?”
“It is essential for the welfare of student tenants that this development is appropriately soundproofed. It would have made no sense whatsoever to insist on rigorous sound control measures without any requirement to test that they were working.
Now he condemned the developer’s decision to challenge the planning committee.
“It is disappointing to hear the developer has not accepted the planning committees decision. I believe that students residents’ wellbeing is the most important thing in this situation. This development could become home to many of our students and as we’ve said all along, we want to be sure it is being built to appropriate standards”
So the fight for soundproofing in the Sugarhouse alley development remains very much on. And with neither side yet willing to throw in the towel, it could even be heading to the courts if the threatened litigation from either side is more than rhetoric.