£20m student digs plan would create 'totally unbalanced community'

Neville House and Sheraton House

Neville House and Sheraton House

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

RESIDENTS are gearing up for a County Hall showdown with developers who want to build £20m-worth of student digs on their doorstep.

Families living on Sheraton Park, in Neville's Cross, Durham City, hope to thwart Alumno Developments' plans to build privately-run accommodation for nearly 400 students on the former New College Durham site.

They say the scheme is far too big, effectively creating a new university campus in a residential area, and contravenes the Local Plan.

The group is also fighting to save Sheraton House, which would be demolished to make way for a new 191-bedroom block.

Neighbouring Neville House, also an Edwardian landmark, would be turned into 233 bedrooms.

The application is expected to go before a Durham County Council planning committee in early May and residents are preparing their case for councillors to refuse permission.

Richard Cookson, who is leading their campaign, said: "We are extremely worried by the plans to convert two historic buildings into such a sizeable student development.

"To allow this development would see students outnumber local families by nearly two to one. It's the equivalent of transplanting a hall of residence bang into the centre of a quiet, family neighbourhood.

"That will create a totally unbalanced community."

Mr Cookson claimed Sheraton House had been shamefully and wantonly abandoned by its owners in the interests of profit; and the City of Durham Local Plan of 2004 says neither Neville nor Sheraton House should become student accommodation and raises concerns about the effect of any development on the amenity of the estate.

Last week, Alumno highlighted a report it had commissioned which suggested Durham needed more student housing.

Managing director David Campbell said its scheme would provide the standard of accommodation needed and free up private sector housing for families, while also bringing far-reaching community benefits.

However, city landlords have questioned the study, saying there are hundreds of rooms still unlet for the next academic year.

Durham University has given qualified support to the project, saying it would enhance a poor environment and hopes to work with Alumno and residents to mitigate any loss of amenity.

Comments (8)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

3:43am Fri 18 Apr 14

Arty111 says...

Once again it's students first and locals second, always was and always has been. I have lived abroad for forty two years but I see nothing has changed.
Once again it's students first and locals second, always was and always has been. I have lived abroad for forty two years but I see nothing has changed. Arty111
  • Score: 5

7:20am Fri 18 Apr 14

George19 says...

However, city landlords have questioned the study, saying there are hundreds of rooms still unlet for the next academic year. It will be the" buy to let brigade" who are the most worried, they buy up properties that young families could afford, there should be a limit on the amount of properties one person can own, and rent should be restricted to the level of council rent per house.
However, city landlords have questioned the study, saying there are hundreds of rooms still unlet for the next academic year. It will be the" buy to let brigade" who are the most worried, they buy up properties that young families could afford, there should be a limit on the amount of properties one person can own, and rent should be restricted to the level of council rent per house. George19
  • Score: 15

10:10am Fri 18 Apr 14

reasoned view says...

NIMBY
NIMBY reasoned view
  • Score: 0

10:53am Fri 18 Apr 14

The Grim North says...

George19 wrote:
However, city landlords have questioned the study, saying there are hundreds of rooms still unlet for the next academic year. It will be the" buy to let brigade" who are the most worried, they buy up properties that young families could afford, there should be a limit on the amount of properties one person can own, and rent should be restricted to the level of council rent per house.
Better to simply have planning restrictions to limit areas where HMOs are permitted. Better to have students in purpose built accomodation to free up houses for family accomodation. Many of the streets in Durham used to be pleasant communities but now most of the city centre is a student ghetto. No problem with students but there is plenty of space to accomodate them within the city without displacing the local permanent community.

If you restrict the number of properties one person can own (which would probably be illegal anyway) then people would simply own them via other means such as through a limited company instead.
[quote][p][bold]George19[/bold] wrote: However, city landlords have questioned the study, saying there are hundreds of rooms still unlet for the next academic year. It will be the" buy to let brigade" who are the most worried, they buy up properties that young families could afford, there should be a limit on the amount of properties one person can own, and rent should be restricted to the level of council rent per house.[/p][/quote]Better to simply have planning restrictions to limit areas where HMOs are permitted. Better to have students in purpose built accomodation to free up houses for family accomodation. Many of the streets in Durham used to be pleasant communities but now most of the city centre is a student ghetto. No problem with students but there is plenty of space to accomodate them within the city without displacing the local permanent community. If you restrict the number of properties one person can own (which would probably be illegal anyway) then people would simply own them via other means such as through a limited company instead. The Grim North
  • Score: 6

10:09pm Sat 19 Apr 14

peter laidler says...

To whom so ever is organising the challenge, best not forget the 1,000 bed student development that has just been approved by the council for the Mount Oswald golf course. Durham born and bred , I have always appreciated the historical significance of the University but the sway they have within and outside of the city confines never ceases to amaze me. I forecast that within a decade this council, led by the egotistical Mr Henig supported by his cronies will have ruined the once fair city of Durham. Progress is inevitable, but the current administration are hell bent on development whether needed/justified or not and are totally immune to local opinion and conservation/balance of quality of life
To whom so ever is organising the challenge, best not forget the 1,000 bed student development that has just been approved by the council for the Mount Oswald golf course. Durham born and bred , I have always appreciated the historical significance of the University but the sway they have within and outside of the city confines never ceases to amaze me. I forecast that within a decade this council, led by the egotistical Mr Henig supported by his cronies will have ruined the once fair city of Durham. Progress is inevitable, but the current administration are hell bent on development whether needed/justified or not and are totally immune to local opinion and conservation/balance of quality of life peter laidler
  • Score: 2

11:16pm Sat 19 Apr 14

IanfromCrook says...

Democracy does not exist in DCC........if the select few back the scheme no amount of public pressure will change thee inevitable. Does the councillor of these areas get a vote? I think I can guess the answer.
Democracy does not exist in DCC........if the select few back the scheme no amount of public pressure will change thee inevitable. Does the councillor of these areas get a vote? I think I can guess the answer. IanfromCrook
  • Score: 4

5:42pm Sun 20 Apr 14

Birdyy says...

A university town needs accommodatiion for students. Do we not want the jobs and economic prosperity this brings?

Or do we just say no. Just like the Europe question we are blind to the benefits but quick to highlight the cost.
A university town needs accommodatiion for students. Do we not want the jobs and economic prosperity this brings? Or do we just say no. Just like the Europe question we are blind to the benefits but quick to highlight the cost. Birdyy
  • Score: 4

3:44pm Mon 21 Apr 14

Chris Neville-Smith says...

Grief, this is anti-student prejudice at its worst. Sheraton Park is not a decades-old community being ruined by developers, it's a new build housing estate that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the very same developers.

As George18 rightly points out, the people who stand to lose out from this are the buy-to-let landlords. In case you haven't noticed, the demand for housing in Durham City Centre is huge, it's pushing up house prices to a ridiculous level. The more we can do to ease demand, the better.

I'm happy to listen to suggestions for better places to site student accomodation, but, for pity's sake, this is on the site of a STUDENT CAMPUS. If we continue to block every development in order to appease a few homeowners who tap into the student sanctioned-hate-figu
re mentality, I will despair.
Grief, this is anti-student prejudice at its worst. Sheraton Park is not a decades-old community being ruined by developers, it's a new build housing estate that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the very same developers. As George18 rightly points out, the people who stand to lose out from this are the buy-to-let landlords. In case you haven't noticed, the demand for housing in Durham City Centre is huge, it's pushing up house prices to a ridiculous level. The more we can do to ease demand, the better. I'm happy to listen to suggestions for better places to site student accomodation, but, for pity's sake, this is on the site of a STUDENT CAMPUS. If we continue to block every development in order to appease a few homeowners who tap into the student sanctioned-hate-figu re mentality, I will despair. Chris Neville-Smith
  • Score: 2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree