A TENACIOUS pensioner who has held out for years against the creeping advance of student housing in her home city has finally been forced to admit defeat.

But Jackie Levitas is now facing a fresh battle against council bureaucracy because of newly introduced rules – which she campaigned for herself.

A new directive means the 79-year-old may not be allowed to turn her Durham City home into student accommodation, despite every other house on her street being similarly converted.

Mrs Levitas, who has been the last permanent resident in Waddington Street since 2013, is reluctantly planning to sell the home she has lived in since the 1970s following a successful appeal to build new accommodation for 363 students nearby.

She said the new application has proved to be "the last straw", adding: “Wild horses wouldn’t have dragged me out if I could have lived here.

"I’ve done everything in my power to try and keep this neighbourhood in a state where people could live but it’s gone beyond that.”

Mrs Levitas, who turns 80 later this month, has applied to Durham County Council for permission to turn her home into a house of multiple occupation [HMO], allowing students to move in.

However, she is facing the prospect of her application being refused because of the new rules she has been campaigning for, which come into effect this month.

The new Article 4 direction means home owners will now need to apply for planning permission to convert houses into HMOs and applications in areas which have more than 10 per cent student housing will be refused.

The policy includes an exception clause for areas which have such a high concentration of HMOs that it will not cause further harm.

But council officers say that while 68 per cent of homes within 100 metres of Mrs Levitas’ property are HMOs, this is not enough for the exemption to apply.

David Randall, from the council’s spatial policy team, said: “Although this is a high percentage, it is not considered to be so high that the exemption to the policy applies.

“As such it is considered there is an argument that there already is a detriment to the local housing stock which would be exacerbated by the change of use of 6 Waddington Street.”

Mrs Levitas, who supports Article 4, said: “This is another battle and I didn’t expect it. I thought my position was very straightforward.

“The spirit of the article is to save housing and to create a balance but if it has been allowed to drift to the point where it has got to in parts of Durham there’s very little chance of saving an area and you’ve got to protect the people who are still surrounded.

“It’s not taking responsibility for the problems we have now got, which are not of my making. I’ve done everything in my power to stop it but I’m a single person. I’ve worked with other people, the City of Durham Trust and the MP but we have been defeated. We tried to restore the balance and we failed because the planners didn’t take that on board.”

Mrs Levitas, who has spent years trying to stop the homes surrounding her being turned into student accommodation, finally admitted defeat following a successful appeal by developers Peveril Securities to turn the former County Hospital site, off North Road, Durham into 82 studios and 281 flats.

“It was the last straw,” she said. “I had been finding it very difficult. I’m going to be 80 and my family has been worried about me.

“It’s not just the noise and the rubbish but I’m very isolated. I haven’t got any neighbours for five months a year.

“When I put the rubbish out it’s so dark and quiet I do get anxious.”

She added: “I’ve been heartbroken because I love my house. I’ve suffered from depression and my health is suffering.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision but it’s getting worse and there are students all around. It’s no longer a place where you can lead a life.

“No one leaves their home at this time of life except with a heavy heart. My heart has been very, very heavy.”