A COMMUNITY group is fighting plans to turn a former mental hospital into digs for 440 students.

Crossgate Community Partnership (CCP) has filed an 11-page objection to £17m proposals for the former County Hospital, off North Road, Durham City.

CCP lists ten reasons Durham County Council should refuse planning permission, including that the area is “already overloaded by private landlords profiting from the student market” and Durham University has offered no support for the scheme.

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The group also says the proposed development would be “ugly and overbearing”.

The plans include converting the 1850s-built hospital into 47 studios, demolishing a 1930s extension and building two new blocks – one with 26 studios and one with 367 bedrooms over seven storeys.

CCP says: “The seven-floor student block is more than twice the height of other building in the area and of no architectural merit.

“The proposed new build would screen the Victorian building from every view point except the top of the railway viaduct.”

However, Savills, the planning agent for the scheme, say it would tackle a shortfall in student accommodation, remove unsympathetic additions to the original Victorian building and replace them with a well-designed and co-ordinated extension.

More information on the application can be found online at durham.gov.uk, using the planning reference CE/13/01696/FPA.

The final decision on whether to grant planning permission will be taken by a council committee in coming months.