Investigations to check for ancient caves have taken place as demolition continues at the site of Nottingham’s former Royal Mail sorting office where a student block is planned.
The Bendigo Building off Bath Street and Brook Street, which stood vacant for 20 years after its use by Royal Mail, will be demolished and student accommodation is set to be built in its place.
In August last year, Nottingham City Council approved plans for a 13-storey block at the site with 692 bed spaces as it seeks to meet demand for student accommodation.
Previous planning permission dating back to 2008 had expired and the scheme now has a new developer, the Bricks Group, after the overall scheme was sold by Godwin Developments.
Demolition is well-underway and a ‘cave probing’ investigation had to be undertaken to check for ancient caves the city is famed for.
It was a condition of planning consent due to the presence of medieval caves in the area, including one of the city’s oldest caves and Georgian and Victorian foundations under the nearby Confetti Campus headquarters in Convent Street.
A geological survey was commissioned by HSP Consulting.
Planning documents from the survey report say: “The purpose of the survey was to identify any voids from underlying caves that may be present beneath a
concrete basement floor.”
If caves are discovered, careful design of the scheme’s foundations and its substructure must be considered.
The report concludes: “The ground penetrating radar survey revealed broad, higher amplitude reflections in the east of the basement that could represent changes in the underlying geology.
“They are not readily identifiable as voids but further intrusive investigations may reveal the composition of the responses.
“Similar anomalies were detected close to the north wall of the basement
that are likely to be associated with the underlying geology.”
The planning application submitted to the council seeks to discharge the cave probing as a condition.
The scheme is just one of many in the pipeline as Nottingham City Council looks to meet demand for student accommodation.
Nottingham’s director of planning, Paul Seddon, described the city’s student accommodation development pipeline of 10,000 beds as the largest outside of London.
Between the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, there has been an approximate 30 per cent increase in students needing accommodation between 2016 and 2022 and, at present, it is estimated there is a shortfall of 5,500 beds.