“BEEFED” up policies on student housing and plans to make developers build more accommodation for older people are part of a proposed new strategy for Durham.

Following years of work to come up with a neighbourhood plan for the city centre, a consultation has started to give people a say on the proposals.

The strategy is aimed at coming up with policies on development and land use, as well as sustainability, employment, housing, transport, community facilities and heritage.

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Roger Cornwell, neighbourhood forum chairman, said: “The problem at present is that planning decisions are made on the old City of Durham District plan, which came into force in 2004. Developers are constantly arguing that it’s out of date.

“We still don’t have a County Durham Plan - it’s two stages away which is at least two years and meanwhile things are happening to the city.”

Members of the public have until December 18 to add their comments on the plan.

Secretary John Lowe said: “We’ve worked really hard on it but we don’t think this is the finished article. We want people to help us improve it.”

The plan also suggests several projects which could be taken forward in the future, including running a pilot to try and bring student houses back into family use, creating an “emerald network” to look at environmental matters in the city and setting up a central information hub in the city centre.

Nick Rippin, case worker for Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, said: “She has asked me to pass on her thanks for all the work that’s been done and congratulations for the heroic efforts in getting to this point.

“Some of the issues they’ve had to face with planning, the conservation area, the Unesco World Heritage Site. There’s nowhere else that faces all these issues when putting together a plan.”

A drop-in session is being held tonight at St John’s Church in Neville’s Cross, from 2.30pm to 6.30pm.

To view the plan visit www.npf.durhamcity.org.uk.

Copies are also available in Clayport Library, at County Hall and at the reception of Durham Town Hall.

Further drop-in sessions are planned for St Oswald’s Institute, Church Street on Tuesday 21 November, 11.00am to 4pm, St Nicholas Church, Market Place: Friday 24 November. 12noon to 4pm and at the Heritage Centre, Wharton Park: Wednesday 6 December, 11am to 4pm.