New apartments and homes will be built on the site of a derelict college in Chilwell after councillors voted through the plans.
High Road Developments Ltd applied to Broxtowe Borough Council to turn part of the former Nottingham College building site on High Road into a new residential development.
The director of the company, Arran Bailey, plans to turn part of the existing site into 65 apartments, a separate building with 15 apartments, six semi-detached houses and one bungalow.
The other half of the site will be used for student accommodation, and another application for a final phase of the development is yet to be submitted.
The project has divided opinion in the area between those who think it is too big for the local community and others who say it will transform a site known to attract anti-social behaviour.
Hundreds of residents living nearby had objected and some said it would be a “crime” for the committee to approve the plans.
But a statement on behalf of applicant said that the committee would have “no defensible reasons for refusal”.
The applicant said they had taken a “conservative approach” to the residential phase of the development.
They said parking had been increased in response to local concerns.
The application was approved by Broxtowe Borough Council at a planning meeting on November 2.
The authority has already had to pay costs after previous plans by ALB Group – also run by Mr Bailey – for 162 student beds on the same site were approved by the Government on appeal.
The applicant had again appealed to the planning inspectorate, saying that the committee had failed to decide on the application in time after it was first submitted in 2021.
It meant that if councillors turned down the other plans on November 2, they would again go to appeal and likely be approved – resulting in further costs to the council.
Chair of the committee councillor David Watts (Lib Dem) openly admitted he would “love” to turn the application down – but agreed that the plans would likely be approved on appeal.
He also raised concerns over the fact that the applicant said they cannot afford to pay Section 106 costs – which go towards mitigating the impact of new developments on the local community.
Tony Greaves, representing more than 200 residents who signed a petition against the plans, said: “Why should we be forced into having these monstrous industrial units in front of our homes?
“They want to build these white monstrous blobs to over 10 metres high. That is twice the height of what was there before and twice the height of our homes.
“The developer boasts that the buildings are in keeping with our surroundings. They need to come back and have another look.
“This site will become three phases, needing 393 parking spaces as recommended by Nottinghamshire highways. The site will only have 97 parking spaces.
“That’s 252 cars that will be coming in and out of the site because there are no spaces available.
“This will cause havoc on High Road, blocking trams, buses and other road users.
“It will be nothing less of a crime to allow this industrial block to be built.”
Cllr Watts added: “I would love to turn this application down because it sticks in my throat that they’re saying they can’t contribute to health provision, education and open spaces locally.
“We’ve looked at every way around whether we can get them to contribute and unfortunately the answers are no time and time again.
“Unfortunately, if our own experts tell us we can’t require them to contribute then we are stuck in that regard.
“With deep regret, I find myself in a position where I can’t see any planning ground on which we can turn this down. I really wish that wasn’t the case.
“If we vote against this it would appeal and I am sure we would lose the appeal and go down for costs again.
“It would give residents false hope when in reality don’t think there is any and it would be an appalling waste of your council tax money.
“With a very heavy heart, I am going to have to vote for this.”
Councillor Steve Carr (Lib Dem) said he had empathy for the residents – but added that the authority has already had to pay “substantial costs” for the previous application.
He said: “I cannot think if there is anything new that wouldn’t prevent that from happening again.
“I share your frustration that a democratically elected council who knows the area can have decisions overturned by a government inspector who doesn’t know the area.”
Councillor Greg Marshall (Lab), supporting the application, said: “This has become a site for anti-social behaviour.
“If you stand at the corner of Dale Lane, there is nothing bigger than the definition of an eyesore than the half-demolished derelict site of the former college at the minute.
“It has to be one of the most sustainably connected sites in transport terms in the whole of Nottinghamshire. It should lend itself to development in my view.
“I think it would be hypocritical to change my view when I argued for it in the first phase of the application.”
As part of the new plans, 80 car parking spaces and 138 cycle spaces will also be provided.