A UNIVERSITY is concerned plans for 135 student rooms nearby would affect their own future plans to expand student halls.

Geoffrey Osborne Ltd has applied to Colchester Council to build the accommodation on land north of Elmstead Road, Wivenhoe. The plans are set to be approved at a planning committee meeting on December 13.

The plans for the vacant field include nine nine-bed units, six seven-bed units, 11 studios, and a one-bed flat.There would also be a common room, reception, office, laundry room and post room, with communal bike store and bin store.

Essex University has raised concerns about the plans and their proximity to the campus.

A planning committee report said: “The proposed development poses the following risks.

“It affects the ability for the university to further grow student accommodation on campus.

“There is a considerable benefit to our students of living on campus in university-owned or administered accommodation, in an environment that we control.

“The university is best placed to serve the accommodation needs of our students.

“Our students do much of their socialising on campus. This is in a controlled environment with 24 hour security and pastoral care. The proposed scheme provides a potential risk for the lively social environment of the campus to extend out to this adjoined location.

“The teams employed to ensure a safe social environment for students on campus would have no jurisdiction to venture into this location.”

The report said as it is not the function of the planning system to protect individual businesses.

A university spokesman said: “We know our students really value having the opportunity to live on our Colchester Campus so we are aiming to continue to increase the amount of student accommodation we offer at our campus.

“We believe living on our campus in university-owned or administered accommodation offers students many, many benefits including easy access to our facilities and services alongside 24 hour security and pastoral support.”

Beyond The Box Beta Ltd has also applied to the council to build another 152 student rooms in Avon Way, Greenstead.

The prospective St Botolph’s Quarter development is also still on the cards, as well as plans for student homes at the former Magdalen Street bus depot site.

We contacted Geoffrey Osborne Ltd for a comment.

A spokeswoman said: “We are confident that this small development will not affect the future expansion of the University and believe it will actually complement and support their ambitions. 

"The university has over 13,000 students in Colchester and guarantees accommodation for those in their first year.  However, with around 3,500 rooms of accommodation available, there is insufficient for every student to live on campus and inevitably this means that many will move away in their second year.  Sometimes this is into privately run student accommodation blocks but more commonly into shared student houses in the town centre.

"Our Elmstead Road development will provide predominantly townhouses along with some studio flats and these will be really well suited to those continuing students, allowing them to experience the independent living that they would get in a shared house, whilst still being very close to campus for studies and other facilities.

"Our development has its own common room and also provides for a round the clock presence by the management team so, unlike conventional shared housing, there will be someone on site to keep an eye on things and to provide pastoral care and support when required.   Part of the management role will be to build a good working relationship with the University’s housing team which we know from our other developments really benefits the students.

"Unfortunately the University’s concerns were not raised with us during the consultation process but we are keen to engage with them to allay any concerns and ensure the best experience for students and local residents.”