Plans for new student accommodation with room for 850 beds in Durham have been approved. 

Residents' concerns over an influx of student accommodation linked to the city’s university was not enough to convince councillors to oppose the application at a planning meeting on Tuesday. Members of Durham County Council’s planning committee approved an outline application for the new student halls on empty land near Mount Oswald. 

An initial layout of the site shows 11 buildings of varying size and height, and it is thought the majority of beds would be provided within ‘cluster flats’ of between five and ten bedrooms, and that ‘there would be a small number of studio apartments and/or town houses within the scheme’.

The applicant, Banks Group says detailed designs for the site will now be drawn up, with further information revealed in due course. A previous similar application was approved by the council in May 2017 but has since expired.

Nearby residents say the development will have a detrimental impact on the area, however. Up to 33 objection letters were submitted to the council in opposition, which cited the potential for late night disturbance from student’s activities and a loss of privacy. Speaking at a County Hall meeting on Tuesday, one Mount Oswald resident said neighbours have “deep and valid concerns” over the plans. 

He added: “Durham is a university city and the need to provide accommodation is understandable, but this needs to be done in a way that considers other residents who also call the city home. There is a fundamental lack of evidence why the expansion is needed here and now.”

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But Banks Group said the new halls will allow for city centre housing to be freed up for local families. “Without these buildings that number of students would have been imposed upon residential areas of the city, as well as the city centre, in the form of houses in multiple occupation or smaller ad hoc student developments,” a statement read.

“The solution of purpose built student accommodation in its own grounds close to the campus is good for the students and good for the residents of Durham City.”

Councillors approved the outline planning application, with further details on the scheme expected in the future.