A FORMER pub can be turned into a 12-bedroom student house, after a planning inspector granted an appeal.

Bill Free Homes (BFH) currently runs the former Britannia Inn pub, in Gilesgate, Durham City, as two houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – one with four bedrooms and one with six.

The student landlord’s initial bid for consent to put two more bedrooms in the loft, extending the six-bedroom HMO to eight, was rejected by Durham County Council last year.

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Neighbours claimed the extra occupants would worsen parking problems and damage the character of the area.

However, BFH appealed and the Planning Inspectorate has overturned the council’s ruling.

Peter Smith, from BFH, said: “We are clearly pleased.

“The planning officers have a difficult job to do and they have to rely on good information from the statutory consultees especially those from within the council itself.

“We felt in this case the highways report was not sound and we feel that this decision supports it.

“We will work closely with the council and neighbours to ensure none of the anticipated problems arise.”

The Planning Inspector said limiting the development to ten bedrooms was “unnecessary in terms of controlling the impacts on highway safety and living conditions”.

He imposed conditions requiring that tenants are told there are no parking spaces available and a 12-space cycle store be installed.