Why student flats given the go ahead in Swansea wouldn’t have been acceptable in just four weeks
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A large student development which got the go-ahead in Swansea would not have been acceptable in just four weeks’ time when new flood-related planning advice comes into force in Wales.
The council’s planning department recommended the 10 to 12-storey building on The Strand for approval, and it was given the green light by the planning committee on November 2.
A planning officer told the committee that there would be “implications” if the application had come before them on December 1 or thereafter.
That’s because new planning policy advice takes effect on that date which will direct development away from areas at risk of flooding and coastal erosion in Wales.
The Strand site in question is considered at risk from tidal and river flooding on new maps accompanying the planning guidance, called TAN 15.
The planning report before the committee said the student development represented a “highly vulnerable use” which “would not be acceptable” under TAN 15.
But planning officers said the building, comprising 312 studios, did comply with current flood risk guidance.
And the meeting heard that the land on which the studios will be built will be raised by 1.4m.
The brownfield site is currently used as a car park, and the planning report said the scheme “would represent a significant regeneration of this site”, as well as contributing to the demand for purpose-built student accommodation in Swansea.
An agent on behalf of the applicants said the studios would take the pressure off houses of multiple occupation in other parts of the city.
Swansea University, he said, was one of the fast-growing universities in the UK.
Cllr Mary Jones was concerned about the safety of students who would live on The Strand.
“For many years I worked in the area and coming out onto The Strand in the evening was pretty unpleasant,” she said.
Cllr Jones said she was worried about a lack of lighting and the proposed zebra crossing from the student tower across The Strand, at the bottom of Green Dragon Lane.
She and Cllr Mike Lewis said a controlled pedestrian crossing was needed.
Cllr Des Thomas said he felt the design of the building, which had been amended, still “leaves a lot to be desired in my way of thinking”.
He also wondered if developers should have to contribute to a potential future upgrade of the embankment at the River Tawe, by Sainsbury’s, to mitigate flood risk.
A highways officer said the zebra crossing, to be paid for by the developer, was considered acceptable and that additional lighting could be included if necessary.
Cllr Richard Lewis said the scheme was just the sort needed to attract more students to Swansea, that the quality of the building was “fine”, and that the location was “wonderful”.
The application was approved, with only Cllr Thomas voting against it.
Swansea has several new or consented purpose-built student accommodation schemes in or near the city centre.
The planning report said 2,624 bed spaces were “currently in the development pipeline”.