Plans for a collection of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) for asylum seekers in a County Durham town have been paused following backlash from residents.

Developers from the Mears group have confirmed that plans to create the homes, which were due to be converted in Peterlee, are now paused following "concerns" and protests from locals.

The latest show of disapproval came from locals who protested outside Durham County Council's offices on Wednesday, February 28 holding 'No to HMO' signs, citing their worry over crime and safety in the area.

According to information provided by residents, it is understood that the homes were located in the west area of town close to the A19.

A spokesperson for the Mears Group said: “County Durham is a dispersal area for asylum accommodation and Mears is required to procure both family and single-person accommodation to house people.

“We are, however, aware of concerns about specific accommodation sites we were considering using in Peterlee and can confirm that we have paused those plans and are looking at other options.”

Despite the group lobbying the council, a spokesperson has confirmed that planning permission from the council is not required unless the HMOs are to accommodate over six people.

They are "not aware" of any such plans in Peterlee for this.

A Durham County Council spokesperson said: “All local authorities follow the nationally set legal framework in relation to the regulation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and we are obliged to issue an HMO Licence if the licensing requirements are met.

“When an HMO is for more than six people, planning permission and consultation with local residents is required. At present, we are not aware of any proposals for HMOs for more than six people in Peterlee.

“If the HMOs proposed for Peterlee go ahead, as with any other HMO in County Durham, we will ensure the landlord fulfills the requirements of the licence and we will take the necessary actions to rectify any breaches.”

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, previously expressed his concern over the HMOs as he believes it could increase crime in the area.

Whilst he is pleased the conversions have, for now, been paused, he hopes they will not go ahead at all.


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He said: “I found out about the HMOs in January and none of the neighbours knew about it. If the HMOs are for five or under people, the neighbours have no say.

“It’s absolutely no good for the area whatsoever. I want to fight it under a few grounds.”

He added: “The thought of the crime rate possibly going up does not make me feel safe – I already do not feel safe in this area.”