Warnings from residents that their estate is being taken over by student properties wasn’t enough to prevent plans for two more being approved. 

A bid to convert two homes in the Belmont area of Durham to make them fit for multiple students was approved by councillors on Durham County Council’s planning committee yesterday (Tuesday, July 11). 

The creation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has long been an issue with residents in Durham, who have called for more purpose-built student accommodation in the city centre to prevent estates popular with families from being taken over. 

The latest application involved two neighboring homes on Moor Crescent, Gilesgate Moor, in an area which residents describe as a quiet cul-de-sac.

Councillors shared their concerns over a potential influx of students into a neighbourhood where the majority of the current demographic is families. 

Local county councillor Lesley Mavin voiced her refusal of the plans after a local backlash.

She told the meeting: “We have seen many representations from local residents about the general proliferation of HMOs and the subsequent reduction in housing stock appropriate for families.

"In this particular case, many concerns about the character of the area and specific issues relating to residential amenity, parking and safety issues in this narrow cul-de-sac.”

The council’s planning rules state that proposals for new HMOs will not be supported where they make up more than 10 per cent of the total homes within 100 metres of the application site, where it is considered that there is an imbalance between HMOs occupied by students and homes occupied by other non-student residents. 

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But in response to the rules the applicant, Apple Farm Limited, said in a statement: “Whilst we acknowledge the concerns raised by local residents in relation to the concentration of student properties within the local area, the current application proposals will not lead to more than 10 per cent of properties within a 100m radius. 

“The proposals relate to the provision of a small five-bedroom HMO and it is not considered that the proposed use would generate levels of noise and disturbance and general activity that would unacceptably impact on neighbouring residents.”

Yet committee members agreed to follow the planning committee’s recommendation to approve the schemes.

Cllr Jonathan Elmer said: “We can’t stop it but it isn’t wanted.”