AN office block next to Exeter’s iconic Old Firehouse pub in the city centre will be turned into student flats.

The vacant Beaufort House on New North Road, built in the late 1980s, needs refurbishing, but instead the offices will now become 23 student flats accommodating more than 100 people.

Exeter City Council planning officers approved a change of use application without it going to a committee of councillors.

The ground and upper floors will be reconfigured to create 107 student bedrooms in 21 self-contained student apartments and two studios, while the basement will become back-of-house facilities.

All rooms will have double beds and en-suite bathrooms, with the layouts exceeding the council’s minimum space requirements.

The planning application, submitted by owner Lexeter LLP, said: “The proposed accommodation offers an alternative to returning students who might normally occupy shared houses, also known as HMOs … Exeter University has more than 27,000 students.

“It is recognised that both the university and its students have a positive impact on the local economy and the cultural and social vitality of the city. “There are recognised benefits, to both student occupants and local residents, in providing accommodation in purpose designed and managed accommodation.

“The proposed 107 student bedrooms in the scheme will help to reduce the number of students in unmanaged properties and potentially release housing back to local families.”

Approving the application, officers said: “The site is considered to be a suitable location, on the edge of the city centre, with good public transport links and within walking distance of the university.”

A student accommodation company called Campbell Property will operate and manage the building. 

The application states it has “more than 15 years” experience developing and managing student accommodation schemes across the UK, including in Exeter.