Historic Lancaster square student flats plan given go-ahead

The new student development in Dalton Square
The new student development in Dalton Square

Plans to demolish a former cinema and build student flats in Lancaster's Dalton Square have been given the go-ahead.

Lancaster City Council granted approval for the plans at a planning and highways committee meeting this week.

An aerial view of the development site

An aerial view of the development site

The scheme, submitted by developer Inayat Munshi, will see the demolition of the former Palace Cinema, which later became a nightclub and soft play area, and the construction of a four storey, 33-bed student block.

The developer had initially proposed six storeys and 42-bedrooms, but the application was withdrawn for review of the design.

Lancaster Civic Society said it was pleased to see that the height of the building had been reduced, although a spokesman said it would like to see it lowered even further so that no part of the roof will be visible from Dalton Square.

The scheme involves the demolition of the majority of 13 Dalton Square, which backs on to Mary Street, but preserves the lower ground floor of the building fronting Dalton Square.

An artist's impression of the frontage in Dalton Square

An artist's impression of the frontage in Dalton Square

It will include a total of 33 bedrooms, made up of 24 one-bedroom studios, 3 two-bedroom apartments and 1 three-bedroom.

A new glazed shopfront with aluminium frames has been proposed to 13 Dalton Square.

On the ground floor would be a lobby, office space, common room, five studios, with a laundry facility, bike and bin store and plant room.

The first to third floors would be a mixture of studio and apartment accommodation.

There is a retaining wall along the southern boundary of the site which is proposed to be clad with climbing plants.

The appearance of the building along Mary Street would be slightly angular with a glazed ground floor and stone fronted for the three storeys above.

Two letters of objection were submitted, one citing the saturation of student developments in the city centre, the other concerned about the potential impact on the Dalton Rooms and Glow Rooms nightclub next door, along with the significant impact on the conservation area.

Planning officers recommended the development for approval saying: "The development is located within the heart of Lancaster city centre and therefore a location which can be supported by the Local Planning Authority for purpose-built student accommodation.

The proposed development has undergone a series of subtle changes throughout the planning process, with the number of bedrooms from the original pre-application reduced from 47 through to 33, a reduction in scale of the building by 2 storeys, use of angled windows and an improvement to the choice of materials.

"It is considered that whilst the applicant has underplayed the impact associated with the ground floor units, where officers feel that owing to the separation distances and blank facades amenity would be affected, overall the development is acceptable, based on the existing arrangement, the improvement to the Dalton Square and Mary Street elevation.

"The development is located within a Conservation Area, but following amendments to the design of the scheme, the development has been found to be acceptable in the context of the Conservation Area.

"Whilst the proposal results in the loss of a Non-Designated Heritage Asset, there is sufficient justification provided to allow for its loss.

"There are no statutory consultees objecting to the development on technical matters and those issues that have been raised as a concern by consultees can be addressed by means of planning condition.

"This is a finely balanced decision on the basis of amenity for proposed students, but on balance it is recommended that Councillors support the scheme subject to the conditions noted within the recommendation section."