Cornwall Council officers have told the company behind new plans for up to 600 student rooms on the Penryn site currently occupied by Rebel Brewery to go back to the drawing board.

Planning consultants Turley Associates and architects Stride Treglown had submitted a pre-application request on behalf of student housing providers Studytel, for a mixed use business and accommodation building at Century House, previously the site of another application by developer Trathen Properties.

The outline plans included an undercroft level with some parking, a ground floor 'winter garden library', and upper levels containing cluster flats for student accommodation.

It sits on formerly protected industrial land recently reallocated for student accommodation provision by Cornwall Council along with two other sites, the former Allen and Heath building now occupied by the Penryn Campus and a plot containing several units including the Granite Planet climbing wall. Included in the proposal were recommended masterplan designs for how the three plots could be amalgamated.

In a document accompanying the pre-application request, newly created company Studytel set out its philosophy and plans for the site.

These include the winter garden library at the hub of the accommodation, "designed to promote dialogue, awaken curiosity and stimulate thinking," with social, study and flexible work space for students and start-up businesses," and plans to make accommodation corridors a "useable social space" rather than just a "means to get to the kitchen."

While the council's principal development officer, Mark Ball, said the principle of development at the site was acceptable, there were issues with its large scale and the high number of students the company wanted to house, as well as a lack of obvious space for business use.

He wrote that as the council's plans for the tranche of industrial estate next to the university "envisages approximately 550 units" of accommodation, the Studytel plan suggests "600 units on this site alone. Whilst a modest increase in the total number of units of student accommodation provided as part of this allocation may potentially be supportable... the figure currently proposed far exceeds what is envisaged [by the council]."

He also said it is "not clear" how the "proposed ‘winter garden’ concept" would add to the employment space required by the council, stating: "The 'winter garden’ concept would appear to provide flexible work space but it is not clear how this would be managed and what split there would be between the space available for student residents and other businesses."

And he added: "During our meeting we discussed the importance of producing a masterplan for the whole allocated site in conjunction with the other landowners/developers with in interest in this allocated land. I would encourage you to pursue the production of a masterplan with the other interest land owners/developers."

Mr Ball also urged caution over constructing anything much taller than the existing buildings on the estate, which are mostly two storeys, and said the scale, height and massing of the proposed development would be "significantly out of scale," while also expressing concern over the significant risk of flooding at the site.