COUNCILLORS have endorsed plans to extend a building in a city’s conservation area to provide additional student accommodation, despite objections from a civic groups and residents.

Robert Fulton has been given permission to carry out the work at Ruth First House, on the corner of Providence Row and Claypath, Durham City.

A Durham County Council area planning committee meeting today (Tuesday, January 14) voted unanimously in favour of the plans after being told they would improve the site.

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A four-storey extension will be built on the building’s northern elevation – on an adjacent car park – while a further extension will be built on top of an existing flat roof on the eastern side.

The development will increase the number of bedrooms across the building by 20.

The meeting was told there had been four objections, including from the St Nicholas Community Forum and the City of Durham Trust.

They voiced concerns over the potential of noise and disturbance generated by students, the overbearing impact of the development, noise pollution during construction and the lack of parking.

Recommending approval, principal planning officer Alan Dobie said the northern elevation and car park were unsightly and the development would improve the conservation area.

He said, although no parking provision would be made for the development, given its location within the city’s controlled parking zone, it was considered acceptable – but there would be no increase in parking permits.

Mr Dobie said: “This is a city centre site in built-up area and there is existing student accommodation on site.

“It is in a sustainable location and very close to local facilities, so the principle of development is established.”

He added, while the development would have an impact on the amenity and privacy of surrounding developments, this was not considered to significant enough to warrant refusal of the scheme.

The development was agreed without any debate on the matter.