SHOWDOWN talks are planned over controversial proposals to turn a former social club into student digs.
Andrew Ward, of Angel Homes, wants to convert the former Neville’s Cross Social Club, on Neville’s Cross Bank, Durham City, but has to date failed to win planning permission.
Neighbours say he wants to cram in too many students, leading to noise and late-night disruption, ruining the community and driving out families with children.
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In June, a Durham County Council committee refused planning permission after objectors claimed up to 66 students could have been accommodated.
Mr Ward has now lodged an appeal against that decision.
The appeal is expected to be dealt with by correspondence, with a Planning Inspector issuing a decision early next year.
Meanwhile, the building’s first and second floors are being refurbished and advertised to students and Mr Ward has applied for planning permission to use the ground floor, previously the club bar, as more residential accommodation.
Now talks have been scheduled between Mr Ward and leaders of the Neville’s Cross Residents group, for Tuesday, September 2.
A public meeting will follow that evening, in St John’s Church Hall at 6.30pm.
Alan Doig, of St John’s Road, said: “We don’t object to the redevelopment of the site.
“Nobody wants a derelict building. And nobody objects to a type and number of students that would be suitable for the area.
“But this would be a very noisy hostel.”
Hannah Davies, of George Street, said: “There’s a very fine balance in Neville’s Cross and it’s being overtaken as another student ghetto.
“I can’t see us staying if that number of students is allowed to live there.”
Mr Ward has previously referred to his opponents as a “small number of hardcore objectors” and warned they should be careful what they wish for, as alternative uses for the building could be worse for the area aesthetically and socially than student accommodation.
Public consultation on the change of use application continues until Thursday (August 28) online at durham.gov.uk/planning, with the reference DM/14/02108/FPA.
Neville’s Cross Social Club relocated to Langley Moor earlier this year.