A STUDENT landlord is seeking planning permission to create a seven-bedroom home amid fears that houses are becoming like “mini halls of residence”.

Dr Richard Scothern has made the application for the property in Elvet Crescent, Durham, a street popular with students.

The house is already a six bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO).

The application is for a change of use to allow it to house up to seven people and for a loft conversion to create an extra bedroom.

Elvet councillor David Freeman, who represents the area, said: “The residents are concerned that the proposals in effect become mini student halls of residence and will do nothing to contribute to the wellbeing of the area nor will they promote balanced and mixed communities or social cohesion.

“They say that large HMOs create even more noise and anti-social behaviour issues and generation of refuse/recycling, parking, taxis, delivery vehicles etc.”

The City of Durham Parish Council objected to the plans, saying it was in breach of the interim policy on student housing, which was created to promote sustainable and mixed communities.

The policy says homes with more than six people sharing should not be permitted if more than 10 per cent of properties within 100m of the site are already HMOs.

John Lowe, from the City of Durham Trust, which also objected, said 72 per cent of homes with 100m of the property were HMOs.

He added: “The City of Durham Trust is concerned about the steady increase in the number of planning applications seeking to convert family dwellings to houses in multiple occupation or to increase the size of existing HMOs.

“This is increasing the imbalance between the student population and the long-term resident population of Durham City.”

Council planners have recommended it be approved by councillors when they meet next week.

A report, to be considered by councillors, says the proposed development does not breach the interim policy because the housing mix would remain unaltered and the small increase in occupancy levels is not considered detrimental to the wider area.

The owners of the property told the council they have “stringent rules” and an active “hands-on involvement” in making sure the house and garden are well maintained.

The report to councillors adds: “The owners are local people and take the matters of any anti-social issues very seriously indeed. They recognise the impact, which is why the physical change is almost unnoticeable. They also recognise their part in directing tenants to live as good Durham citizens.”

A decision will be made by Durham County Council's central and east planning committee at a meeting on Tuesday.