CONCERNS have been raised about the safety of children travelling to school because pavements are not big enough for the number of people using them.

Durham residents are worried too many people are using pavements around South Road and Church Street and the situation is becoming dangerous for children going to schools in the area.

They say a proposed expansion by Durham University will make the problem worse and are calling on them to look again at their plans.

The university has applied for permission to build a £39.8m teaching and conference centre in South Road.

The development is a key part of the university’s ten-year growth strategy and is needed to cater for the 1,800 students moving from its Stockton campus this year and 1,000 extra students over the next two years.

Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum (NPF) has objected to the plans because of fears for pedestrian safety, describing the number of students coming in and out of lectures as a “tsunami of young adults”.

Pippa Bell said: “During a public consultation held at the school in 2015 one boy described how he is frequently jostled by students on the pavement outside school, and feels unsafe. We have been aware of the increase in pedestrian traffic towards the science site over the last few years. The proposed development can only make things worse for schoolchildren and students.”

The body also believes that the university’s application contains inaccuracies and say the issue needs “urgent resolution” ahead of extra students moving to Durham from Stockton this autumn.

The university, which plans to improve pedestrian and cycle routes to ease congestion, says the building will mean around 300 extra students arriving there at peak times. But the NPF has calculated that if the building was used at 80 per cent capacity there would be roughly 900 students arriving, mostly within the ten minutes prior to the start of classes.

Jane Robinson, chief operating officer at Durham University, said: “We understand that, at peak times during the working day, there are pinch points on pedestrian access routes across the city.

“As part of the Centre for Teaching and Learning development, we intend to improve the pedestrian crossing to the rest of the Lower Mountjoy site across South Road, provide secure cycle parking for users of the centre and also improve pedestrian access to St Mary’s College and beyond into the hill colleges area.

“We also intend, as part of a second phase, to improve the main north/south pedestrian route past the site between Mount Oswald and the New Inn junction.”