“STUDENT GHETTO” GIVEN GO-AHEAD

Councillors approve plans to build over 200 privately-run flats in Durham, despite lack of University support and “student ghetto” complaints by residents.


Councillors approve plans to build over 200 privately-run flats in Durham, despite lack of University support and “student ghetto” complaints by residents.

Yesterday Durham County Council’s planning committee gave permission to developer Connislow to build 223 student bedrooms in four blocks on the former Fred Henderson garage on Ainsley Street.

Building work could begin as early as next year on the flats, which are said to be marketed at mature, international postgraduate students.

An artist’s impression of the accommodation

The plans were approved by seven votes to none, despite multiple complaints from local residents over anti-social behaviour and noise levels.

Jackie Levitas, who has lived in the area for 35 years, told councillors: “I’ve seen it become a student area. I want to see it become a family area again.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you don’t take it, it will sink into a student ghetto.”

Another resident, George Pearson, said: “Is Durham a university city or a university campus? The way we’re going it’s clearly a university campus.”

The University itself even opposed the scheme, objecting to its lack of communal facilities and its confliction with its own accommodation strategy.

But Connislow director John Parkinson argued that there was a shortage of student accommodation in Durham and that the scheme was sustainable.

“Durham University is growing,” he said. “Whether it’s supported in this city or not, it’s growing fast.”

Councillors supported this argument, claiming that the scheme would provide purpose-built student accommodation and remove students Durham’s residential areas.

Universal Student Living, which is currently going through a national accreditation process, is managing the process.

Afterwards, Neville’s Cross Councillor Holland said: “This was a very disappointing outcome that will not be welcomed by the University or by the local residents.

“The city has lost a golden opportunity to create more family housing to enhance the newly approved housing development on the adjacent site of the old Arriva depot.”

So should the plans been approved? Vote now: