A POPULAR city centre hotel and restaurant are facing an uncertain future, after plans emerged to convert the premises into more student accommodation.
A planning application has been filed to Durham County Council which would see the Kingslodge Hotel, on Waddington Street, Durham – which is also home to Finbarr’s restaurant – extended and converted into rooms for 57 students.
Amid anger over more and more of the city being turned over to student accommodation, the scheme has already drawn objections from Crossgate Community Partnership (CCP) and the City of Durham Trust, among others.
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The Partnership says the area already has too many students and another 57 would only exacerbate problems of late-night disturbance.
“The on-site wardens that are promised will have no impact on behaviour outside the site.
“The applicants have a touching faith in the ability and willingness of the University to control its own students, but this is not something that happens in practice,” Ruth Chambers, CCP secretary, writes.
Meanwhile, the Trust says there is no demonstrable need for the development and argues for it to be maintained as a hotel; while also raising fears over nearby Flass Vale nature reserve becoming a “student playground”.
However, in a supporting statement filed with the application, The Planning Station says more purpose-built student accommodation is needed, as Durham University student numbers are expected to grow to 15,300 by 2019-20.
The report says the applicant “anticipates significant public objection to the proposals on residential amenity grounds”, but points to the council’s decision to grant approval for the construction of 220 student bedrooms on the former Fred Henderson garage site, on nearby Ainsley Street, in support of its case.
“The applicant acknowledges that the behaviour of some students can be attributable to noise and disturbance but would reiterate that the University has some control over its own students, whether or not they are accommodated by the University.
“Additionally, the Council has the power to investigate and take action under statutory nuisance laws as appropriate.”
However, the report says the applicant “acknowledges her own responsibilities” and would welcome a condition requiring her to submit an accommodation management plan prior to students moving in.
The hotel opened in August 2000 and currently has 21 bedrooms, with planning consent to expand to 50.
A formal consultation period has begun and runs until Friday (June 27). For more information, visit durham.gov.uk/planning using the reference DM/14/01418/OUT