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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Former Carlisle clinic set to become homes for students

Carlisle's former Central Clinic looks set to become accommodation for up to 59 students.

Central Clinic photo
The former Central Clinic

Chartered accountant Ian Lancaster acquired the building, in Victoria Place in the city centre, at auction for £370,000 in February.

He has tabled a planning application through his company, Devonshire Lodge, to convert it into high-specification student residences.

The plans show 51 bedrooms over four floors, plus six communal kitchen/dining areas, and 17 parking spaces. Most of the rooms are en-suite although a few share a bathroom, and eight are double rooms.

Mr Lancaster runs the accountancy firm NB Lancaster & Co in Brunswick Street. He also farms at Scaleby and is a director of the auction mart group H&H.

He believes that demand for student accommodation is growing.

He said: “We want to make the building into upmarket, high-standard student accommodation.

“The plan is to get it ready for September 2015. The location in the city centre is ideal. It’s within walking distance of the University of Cumbria’s campuses in Fusehill Street and Brampton Road.

“We have spoken to the university and we expect demand for this type of accommodation to grow.”

Official figures indicate that student numbers are holding up well.

The university will accept 1,050 first-year undergraduates in Carlisle this autumn, compared with 1,040 last year and 965 in 2012 when higher tuition fees were introduced.

The Central Clinic, which provided children’s health services, closed in 2008. Announcing the closure, Cumbria Primary Care Trust described it as a “tired facility” that lacked sufficient parking spaces and was “becoming not fit for purpose”. It has stood empty ever since.

The planning application says that a letting agency would manage the development, provide security and arrange cleaning services. The earliest the proposal could go before Carlisle City Council’s development control committee is October 3.

Seven people, mostly nearby residents, have objected. Katharine Cumming, of Strand Road, wrote: “The idea of naturally exuberant young students will not go for a harmonious neighbourhood.” And Hazel Calvert, also of Strand Road, wrote: “This will create a lot of noise, litter and put more strain on parking in the area.”

Two other schemes for student accommodation in Carlisle are in the pipeline but have been delayed while developers assess the impact of higher tuition fees on student numbers.

Businessmen Bob McKnight and John Macintosh won planning consent in 2011 for a £10m scheme to provide 196 student bedrooms and 40 craft workshops on derelict land at Denton Business Park.

And Esh Border Construction has planning consent for phase two of a student complex on the site of the old Kangol factory in Norfolk Street, Denton Holme. Phase one, which opened in September 2012, houses 249 students. When complete, the £16m scheme will accommodate nearly 500 students in 13 three and four-storey town houses.

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