Durham County Council faced with fresh 200 room student block plan

by James Powell

Durham County Council faced with fresh 200 room student block plan

Durham County Council faced with fresh 200 room student block plan days after turning down 363 bed development.

Planners will be told to greenlight proposals for hundreds more student homes despite university opposition.

Durham County Council’s central and east planning committee on Tuesday will be advised to approve plans for the former Durham University site in the city’s Kepier Close which will see four buildings built to create 214 new student rooms.

Yet the move comes six days after councillors knocked back proposals for a 363 room development at the former County Hospital on North Road, while proposals for a 445 room development on Claypath scraped through by six votes to five.

The site has stood empty since Durham University left in 2005 though the plans would see Kepier House, a former prison building, preserved.

Harvey Dowdy, deputy director at Durham University, said: “The University does not consider that the developer has demonstrated what specific need the proposal is aimed at and why this need is currently unmet, nor have they entered into any agreement with the university, or to our knowledge, any other education provider for the supply of all or some of the bed spaces.”

It was claimed during last week’s meeting of the county planning committee week that many student blocks are not being filled even before more than 1,400 more rooms which have been granted permission or are thought to be in the pipeline are built.

And Durham University’s pro vice chancellor said he is expecting an increase of just 359 students at the university by the 2019 to 2020 term.

The City of Durham Trust is also among the 26 objectors to the plans.

A statement submitted from the group said: “The important question here is that of need, which has become a material planning matter.

“Overall, extant approvals of bed numbers already equate to the university’s own building programme to cover two-thirds of this increase.”

But Intersect Architects, in documents submitted by developers Fairhurst, said the land and buildings have been subjected to extensive vandalism and lack of maintenance, and the plans would make a “positive contribution” to the city.

“It is proposed to demolish all buildings on the site with the exception of the stone built penitentiary which will be retained, adapted and brought back into everyday life containing common on site facilities,” the architects said.

“This building is seen as a one of the few buildings of note in this particular zone of the Durham City conservation area and the opportunity to greatly enhance the site and hence make a positive contribution to this redevelopment is welcomed by the developer.”


Source: ChronicleLive

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