Plans for a college and accommodation for nearly 300 international students next to the University of Sheffield campus are in line for approval next week.
Councillors are being advised to give the go-ahead for the proposed development between Broad Lane and Garden Street amid university concerns about sensitive research equipment in neighbouring buildings being disturbed during construction. “The developer has responded formally to address their concerns,” says a council report. The site, opposite the Rockingham Street NHS walk-in centre and overlooking the Setts cobbled car park, was due to be used for a ‘graduate school’ until the developer went into liquidation. Now a separate company, the Watkin Jones Group, which specialises in student flats, wants to pick up the baton, building teaching space and accommodation for up to 287 international students aged 16 to 18 so they can prepare themselves for a university education in the city. As a second phase, it is intended to partly refurbish and rebuild the old St Luke’s School, off Garden Street, to create offices. The whole project has won the backing of council officers, who accept the impact on the conservation area of a complex ranging from four to 11 storeys, and on the former school, a listed building, despite objections from Sheffield Conservation Advisory Group.
Councillors will have the final word next Tuesday, but they are being advised: “The proposal represents a substantial development in the St Vincent’s Quarter. The site has been vacant for a number of years and its development will provide wider regeneration benefits to the area. The reuse of the school building is particularly welcomed.”
Council officers add: “Occupiers of adjacent properties will not be adversely affected by the proposed development.”
The university has asked for further investigation of vibrations from heavy plant during construction so that a “suitable solution” can be found to ensure there is no disruption to its research operations. It is also concerned that a proposed power and heat supply could cause problems.
Any changes in the surrounding location could affect “very detailed and sensitive” research, the university points out. Electron microscopes directly support £5m a year research projects and other research takes the total to £10m a year.
At the same time, the university welcomes the prospect of a vacant site being improved.