New uni accommodation at Peterborough’s Solstice recommended for approval despite loss of cathedral views

Plans to demolish the Solstice in Northminster and replace it with new private and student accommodation have been recommended for approval despite an acceptance that views of the cathedral will be lost.
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The city council’s planning committee will determine on Tuesday whether to give the green light to an application for the nightclub to be knocked down and replaced by 56 apartments, 77 student rooms and retail and restaurant units.

The plans for the new three and seven storey blocks also include 36 basement parking spaces.

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If approved this would represent the first private sector investment in student accommodation for the new university - ARU Peterborough - which is set to open in 2022 by the Embankment.

How the development could lookHow the development could look
How the development could look

According to a report published by the council ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, several objections have been raised over the plans, including from Historic England, Peterborough Civic Society and the authority’s own conservation officer.

Historic England stated: “The scale and massing of the current proposals would cause a high level of harm to views of the Grade I listed Peterborough Cathedral and detract from the setting of the City Centre and Park Conservation Areas.”

The Civic Society listed several objections, including the lack of a Supplementary Planning Document from the building’s owners MPB Structures, and the fact that the building would contravene a council planning policy which states that “new development must, where appropriate, protect important views of the cathedral”.

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The group added: “Clearly the application site is in a direct line of sight between northern and western parts of the public park known as Stanley Recreation Ground and the cathedral.

“It appears that the proposed scheme will block views of upper parts of the cathedral and interrupt the view of its majestically long east-west profile silhouetted against the sky. As such it is unacceptable.”

The council’s conservation officer stated: “Owing to the scarcity of prominent views of the cathedral from the north of the city, this development would largely obscure any meaningful appreciation of the city’s foremost historic asset from the north.

“Allowing the best north view of the cathedral to be largely obscured from a public vantage point would also set a precedent going forward as other sites within the Northminster area come forward for redevelopment in the future.”

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The council in its report acknowledged that views of the cathedral would be lost if the plans were approved, but referenced a similar application from 2007 which was approved, adding that the new scheme would “not worsen this impact”.

It also stated that the loss of views of the cathedral were suitably mitigated by the benefits of the new upper floor accommodation and ground floor retail and leisure uses, as well as the provision of 17 new affordable homes.

If the application is approved by councillors the taxi rank on Northminster and parking on Brook Street would be removed to allow for the new private parking spaces.