A bid to convert a city centre home, once raided for housing a ‘cannabis farm’, into flats has been refused. 

24 Nevilledale Terrace, Durham, was the subject of a planning application by its owner Gabrielle Moore to split the townhouse into two separate flats. 

Although there was no mention of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in planning documents, campaigners said they were worried that, if approved, it would become one due to previous applications for the site which have been refused. 

Ms Moore has failed in two appeals to overturn decisions to convert the house into a HMO, a Durham County Council planning meeting heard.

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And despite the local authority’s planning officers recommending the proposal for approval, councillors continued their streak of refusing similar applications in order to protect Durham City from more student homes. 

Just two weeks after attending County Hall to oppose two other applications, residents were back to voice their disapproval for the latest proposals.

“We’re looking at the heart of our city, which is already saturated by HMOs,” said City of Durham parish councillor Grenville Holland. “It certainly needs no more.”

He added: “Residents believe that this property, once out of sight, and with minor internal modifications will simply become another HMO. Planning permission would set a dangerous precedent and encourage similar applications elsewhere.” 

Police raided the house, off Crossgate Peth, in June 2020 and found cannabis plants being grown in most rooms, which were fitted out with sophisticated heating, lighting and watering equipment.

A statement sent from Mrs Moore stated the flats could appeal to a wide range of tenants seeking affordable rental accommodation including students.

It added: “The proposals would clearly contribute to the provision of a range of high quality student accommodation options to support the growth of Durham University and ensure that students have access to modern, high quality accommodation over the course of their studies.”

But Joan Adams, a nearby resident, said Ms Moore has “demonstrated a cavalier attitude to being a landlord and following essential planning procedures” after the home was allegedly converted without permission and has “consistently housed unauthorised numbers of tenants”. 

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Cllr Jonathan Elmer also accused Ms Moore of “circumventing the planning system” and proposed overturning the planning officers’ recommendation to approve the application. 

Ms Moore was not at the meeting to respond to the comments. 

The application was refused by five votes to two.