Halls of residence plan unveiled by Somerset College

This is The West Country: An artist's impression of Somerset College's proposed scheme. An artist's impression of Somerset College's proposed scheme.

BOSSES at Somerset College hope a multi-million pound halls of residence development at their Taunton campus will help attract more students and boost the local economy – without upsetting neighbours.

But people living nearby fear it could create more parking problems.

The college will soon apply for outline planning permission for 200 student living units on its playing fields off Heron Drive, Bishop’s Hull.

It will also sell off its existing student accommodation at the former police training college at Canonsgrove, Trull, where permission will be sought for 70 homes.

People living near the two proposed developments who attended a consultation exhibition have submitted comments on the project.

Bishop’s Hull Parish Council chairman Rod Porter said: “There have been lots comments that there are only eight parking spaces – some people say there are already lots of parking problems in Heron Drive due to staff and students from the college parking there to avoid paying car park fees.

“A couple of people also commented that the campus is non-smoking, with students congregating on Wellington Road for a cigarette – they’re concerned the same could happen in Heron Drive.”

The college has held an exhibition and is consulting with locals on both schemes.

A spokesman said the Canons-grove halls are “under capacity” because it is hard to attract students to accommodation three miles out of town with few amenities.

He said: “Higher education is so competitive and students will look at where they’re going to live. Canonsgrove is a nice setting but it’s not convenient and dilutes the college’s abilities to attract students.

“People near Canonsgrove are concerned about the impact of 70 dwellings on the local infrastructure, while Bishop’s Hull residents are concerned primarily about parking and the impact the college has on the surrounding area.

“The new halls meet the aspirations of students in a modern college and we’ll ensure the students are well-managed.

“Our students understand what they’re here for and that they have a responsibility to the local community.”

He said the college, which boosts the local economy, will also provide quality sports facilities on site which will be available to clubs and organisations, while there would be little impact on parking in Heron Drive as few students can afford cars these days.

Somerset College has more than 5,500 students and more than 350 employees.

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