A new care home will be built opposite a university college after a planning inspector overturned a council decision. 

Torsion Care can now build the 74-bed facility on land at Mount Oswald, Durham, opposite Durham University’s South College.

The three-storey building was recommended for approval by Durham County Council’s planning department but was opposed by committee members in January. Councillors warned the care home would negatively impact healthcare provision in the area and that the site’s proximity to the university was inappropriate.

Claypath and University Medical Group also said it has significant concerns about the negative impact the proposal could have on their services. 

The Northern Echo: The South College campus at Durham UniversityThe South College campus at Durham University (Image: The Northern Echo)

Meanwhile, Prof Timothy Luckhurst, principal of South College, said he feared a conflict between student lifestyles and the expectations of families placing their aged relatives in residential care. The nearby bar is often busy with students and hosts events including graduations and formal dinners. 

But Torsion Care argued that there is a need for care home beds in the local area.

In reviewing the appeal, a planning inspector said the main issue was the effect the proposal would have on existing elderly housing provision and providers, about supporting economic growth, local business needs, and wider development opportunities.

The inspector added: “There is no clear evidence that the proposal is of such a scale that it would result in a significant overprovision of specialist elderly housing, to the extent that it would be detrimental to the local business needs of existing providers.”

“The proposal would contribute to the choice of accommodation to suit older people’s changing needs and there is no substantive evidence that in doing so it would undermine wider opportunities for development.

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They added that it would “not have a harmful effect on existing elderly housing provision or providers”.

The inspector concluded: “The proposal accords with the development plan. There are no material considerations that indicate that I should take a decision otherwise than in accordance with it. I conclude that the appeal is allowed.”

Ian Ward, of Torsion Care, applied for costs against Durham County Council but his request was refused.