A UNIVERSITY college is being moved to a residential estate as part of plans to relocate students from Stockton to Durham.

Durham University has agreed to move Ustinov College from its current home at Howlands Farm, off South Road on the outskirts of the city, to Sheraton Park, in Neville’s Cross.

The decision means postgraduate students at Ustinov will start moving into the block of purpose-built student accommodation [PBSA], which is currently under development, in the 2017/18 academic year.

The move is part of the university’s strategy to relocate students from its Queen’s campus in Stockton.

Students at John Snow and Stephenson colleges are expected to start moving into Ustinov’s current home by 2018/19.

One of the colleges would then move to the new Mount Oswald site, off South Road, the following year.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Durham University’s vice-chancellor said: “In order to ensure a sustainable future for the university and to compete on a global scale, we need to build on our success and make changes where they are needed, including growing our student numbers in a carefully planned way.

“We are committed to working with staff, students, residents and other partners to ensure we deliver the best possible strategy, which in turn delivers the best for our city and region.”

Ustinov students have launched a campaign against the move, including an online petition.

It says: “To lose our home represents losing a central aspect of our identity as a college, and as a contributor to the intellectual standing of the university, as Durham’s postgraduate centre. Place is important.

“The move is not detrimental solely to Ustinov members: there has been considerable opposition within the local community to the Sheraton Park site, as it is bounded so closely on all sides by residential areas.

“Local residents have made it clear they will oppose the provision of facilities at Sheraton Park that are central to a college, especially one so far from Durham’s centre, such as a bar for socialising, or even visitor parking.”

Work at Sheraton Park, the former home of New College, to convert the neo-Georgian building into student accommodation, started in January.

The building has been empty since 2004 and is now surrounded by houses popular with families.