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Fairfax Street Development Approved By Planners

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Fairfax Street Student Flats

Plans for the development of an accommodation complex housing up to 1000 students have been approved by city planning officers.

The proposal seeks to develop the former Cox Street car park with a mixed use scheme, predominantly based around student living with associated ancillary spaces; including a gym, cinema rooms, dance studios, cafes and other related uses, along with ground floor retail units.

The development will also include parking provision of circa 170 spaces, with a temporary ground floor parking area that will be retained for public use. Condition 17 of the decision notice states:

The ground floor temporary car park hereby permitted shall remain available for public use until the public swimming facilities at Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre, Fairfax Street discontinue or until it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the local planning authority that after a period of 5 years from the date of this permission it is no longer required to serve the sports and leisure centre, whichever is the earlier.

The temporary parking area will then be converted to retail units fronting Fairfax Street once the condition has been discharged.

The development will consist of four blocks, the tallest of which will be 22 storeys high, and at over 74 metres will be the tallest building in the city.

In referencing the design of the building, the report cites concerns relating to the impact on the city wall, and this led to a amendment to the design that was more sensitive to the location of the wall:

Various options have been considered for thewall. One option was to raise the wall above ground level where it would be on public display. Another was to leave it in situ with a glass floor above so it could be viewed below the ground floor of the building. If the wall was exposed to the elements then it is unlikely to be preserved. If it is below glass then it could be ruined by condensation. It is therefore considered, following the advice of the Council’s Conservation Officer and the consultant from Leicester University, the best option is to leave the wall where it is.

Whilst leaving the wall where it is, it is still considered important that it is acknowledged as a heritage asset. The scheme has therefore been amended to crank the western section to follow the line of the wall. The building itself will run alongside and follow the route of the wall but set slightly back from it. To acknowledge it, the first three storeys of the western block will be constructed of sandstone to the elevation alongside the wall. The three storey approach was considered to be the appropriate height for the sandstone to have some impact and for it to be viewed from the ring road to the north. The sandstone will project forward onto Fairfax Street and to the rear towards the ring road where it will extend sufficiently for it to be inscribed to identify the location of the wall.

In reference to the design, the report concludes:

With a maximum of 22 storeys for the central wing, the development will be prominent. However, it is now considered that the design is acceptable and whilst prominent, it will be a landmark building in this location.

The controversial use of white render as a finish material is referenced in the report which calls for the receipt of sample materials to “enable officers to consider the render to ensure we are satisfied that it will weather well – through render choice, detailing around windows, parapets, joints etc. A condition for material samples is recommended accordingly.”

The first phase of the development is expected to be complete in time for the start of the 2018/19 academic year.

The Full Report

Fairfax Street Report

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