Plans to build flats for 96 students at a former city centre nightclub site were refused by councillors after the design was compared to that of an army barracks block.
Developer Anas Mister applied to build a four-storey building fronting onto North Road on the site of the old Warehouse nightclub, which has been demolished.
A second five-storey building would have been built behind it.
A Grade II listed three-storey warehouse building next door would also have been converted.
But Lancaster City Council’s planning committee unanimously refused the plans after sharing concerns raised by council officers and English Heritage about the design of the buildings.
City council leader Eileen Blamire said: “A sound of horror went around the table when we saw the plans.
“The buildings looked so crammed in and quite a few people commented that they looked like a barrack block.”