COUNCILLORS are set to decide on whether to approve plans to almost double the number of student beds built as part of a controversial development on a former golf course.

The Banks Group has applied to build student accommodation for a further 850 students at its development at Mount Oswald’s in Durham.

The company already has outline planning permission for 1,000 student beds on the site.

Planners from Durham County Council have recommended that the application is approved by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday.

Banks says since the first application was approved, the university has identified need for a greater amount of student accommodation, while the council had also shifted its policy to try and limit the amount of HMOs

It adds: “The objective of this application is not to stifle or negatively impact upon the existing university permission, which is located on land immediately east of the application site, but to support the need for further student accommodation, which has been identified by Durham University.”

Jane Robinson, Durham University’s chief operating officer, has written to the council support the application.

She said: “Durham University is committed to taking a planned and sustainable approach to developing our estate, in consultation with the wider community, including new collegiate student accommodation.

“We want to be a good neighbour and, as such, any developments will be very carefully managed. We are currently undertaking a legal procurement process to appoint a private partner to develop land that we own at Mount Oswald into new student collegiate accommodation with 1,000 residential places.

“We are aware The Banks Group has applied for outline planning permission as a private developer for Purpose Built Student Accommodation comprising 850 bedrooms on land to the north of the Mount Oswald site. We understand that these proposals have been carefully considered, taking account of the relationship with the local community.”

Concerns have been raised, including by Durham Police, about the extra traffic from pedestrians on pavements next to South Road, which they say are already too narrow and inadequate for the number of people using them.

It has been suggested that improvements to nearby Mill House Lane could be made to encourage pedestrians to use it as an alternative.

It has also been suggested that Banks extend the nearby park and ride at Howlands Farm to cater for the increased number of people living there.

The university has announced plans for at least two new colleges at Mount Oswald. It also plans to open a further two to four colleges at other locations as part of its 10-year strategy to expand student numbers in Durham by around 6,500.

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