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Residents back plans to turn ‘eyesore’ Derby building into student ‘cluster flats’

today22 September 2022 1

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Residents have said they’re pleased that a derelict Derby city centre building will be turned into more than 50 student rooms, if plans are approved. The former industrial warehouse, 10-14 St Helen’s Street, would be extended, renovated and turned into 59 student bedrooms across 10 “student cluster flats” under the proposals.

The property sits on the corner of St Helen’s Street and A6 in King Street, in the West End, falling under Darley ward for planning purposes, and is near to the BBC Radio Derby building. The plot, spread over 742 sq/m, has been derelict and boarded up for years, comprising of six internally and externally connected buildings.

Residents in St Helen’s Street have now responded positively to the proposals. Some called the derelict building, which dates back to the early 19th century, “an eyesore” and said that it had become a hotspot for trouble.

READ MORE: Plan to turn derelict Derby toilet block into a barber’s shop

Scott Redhead, a nearby homeowner, said: “It’s [the current building] a mess. It’s been like that since I have been here, so it will look better if it is renovated. The only thing I would like to see is an entrance to get through to the main road from where we live.

“Kids from around here go onto the site and mess around, and you get a lot of flies and bees in it too. I used to be a student myself, and they’re only a bit rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights really, so it doesn’t bother me.

“I’d prefer to see the building gone, it’s an eyesore. There have been homeless people and narcotics found in there, and it’s not good to have a lot of police cars around here.”

The plans were submitted by Derby-based EP Property Solutions and Lincoln-based Wilson Architects to Derby City Council, and were validated on Friday, September 16. They cover all four floors of the building, and there are also plans for the basement, but none of the 59 proposed rooms would be below ground.



Pictured is the site which could be turned into student accommodation.
The site which could be turned into student accommodation.

As well as the changes to the building, the site would also have 40 new cycling spaces if plans are approved. No plans have been submitted for car parking spaces.

Nicola, another local resident who did not wish to give her last name, also supported the proposals. She said: “Something needs to be done about it [the current building], it’s an eyesore. People keep coming here and making trouble, I have caught people over there before making a nuisance.

“I have been here five years and it’s been boarded up the whole time. It doesn’t bother me that it would be student flats, as something needs to be done as people are doing drugs there, and people kick down the fence and walk in.

“As long as the students don’t make trouble or noise, I don’t mind. Other flats have been built while I’ve been here, so I’m not bothered about construction noise, that’s a small price to pay.”



Nearby residents say that people have tried to access the derelict site and cause problems. Pictured is a hole in the fence to the site.
Nearby residents say that people have tried to access the derelict site by going through the fence and cause problems.

A fence panel at the back of the building had been removed, meaning access can be gained to the site. Residents claimed that a large cannabis grow was found at the site in February 2022, as Derbyshire police found grows at four sites across the city centre and arrested two men.

Clare and Kerry, two neighbours near to the site, said they were pleased something was being done with the building, but had concerns that it would be used for student accommodation.

Clare said: “If St Helen’s Street is still blocked off at the top, that is fine, but if they opened it all up it would be carnage. It’s too busy as it is, we all have to share car parking spaces and it’s too busy as it is.

“It’s fairly quiet down here but you can hear students coming back from town some nights. But as long as they don’t open the street up whatever happens, as that would be a nightmare. It would be nice for it to be open but not as student flats. It would nice if it was a supermarket or if they turned it into a shop.”

Kerry said: “The building has been like that for years, but it doesn’t bother me like it is. For us people that have to get up early, student flats would be quite noisy. You can often hear them over the back garden, so I don’t know how I would feel about them being next door.

“There are enough student flats around here and they have only just knocked down Sir Peter Hilton Court in Agard Street. Why would they knock that down to build more here? It’s already busy here and when they shut Agard Street, I could not even get out of the street, it was chaos.”

The plans come as work continues on the site of the former Sir Peter Hilton Court, a University of Derby hall of residence which was demolished earlier this year. The demolition, being handled by Derbyshire firm, Cawardens, preceded the construction of a new business school on the site.

In a document submitted to planning officers, Lincoln-based architectural firm, Wilson Architects, said of the St Helen’s Street site: “12 St Helen’s Street was built in 1817-9 and was used by William Haslam, a whitesmith, bell-hanger and brass founder and formed his workshop from the early 1830s. The site was acquired by Richard Brown and his son, manufacturers of spar products, in about 1802.

“They established a new factory, reusing existing buildings, and expanded into an E-shaped complex facing St Helen’s Street, certainly by about 1819. In the 1830s the site was divided between William Haslam, a whitesmith, who acquired the west wing, and Joseph Hall who bought or leased the remaining buildings to carry on spar production. Currently, the buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair and have not been used for some time.

“The implementation of a new student accommodation on the site will use an existing plot of land which is currently being under-utilised through the dereliction of the existing building on the site. This area of Derby is ideal for the development of a new student accommodation not only due to the proximity to the University of Derby which is a 20-minute walk away from the application site. The site is also exemplary for student accommodation due the provision of social amenities & facilities such as shops, supermarkets, parks and transport links.”

Residents are entitled to leave comments in support or objecting to any planning proposal submitted to a local authority. If you want to see any of the documents attached to this application, you can visit the Derby City Council website and use the reference number 22/01456/FUL.

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