Durham Residents Brand New Rules Meaningless

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

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Concerns have been raised by residents that rules bought in to halt the spread of student housing in Durham are not working as intended.

Permission was recently granted to convert a town house in Neville's Cross into a house of multiple occupation (HMO), as less than 10% of the homes within 100m were occupied by students.

The limit was put in place last year, but locals have argued planners should be taking into account the fact more than 400 students are due to move into the estate next month when Durham University moves Ustinov College to the recently converted New College building.

Commenting on the planning's approval, councillor Liz Brown, said: "Durham County Council introduced the Interim Student Policy to fill a planning vacuum and it has not turned out to be the answer Durham's beleaguered residents hoped for."

She added: "Approving this application may not seem like a big deal but it could be the step that leads to the loss of yet another community."

Sheraton Park Residents' Association objected to the original application and are now attempting to gather their own data on HMO numbers, after suggesting the new rules were meaningless.

Association members argued the exact student population figure is likely to be higher than the number quoted by the council as not all HMOs are registered. They also suggested the new student accommodation in the middle of the estate should be taken into account.

Responding to members concerns, head of council planning Stuart Timmiss said council tax data was used to calculate HMO figures, which is the most robust and accurate information held.

Mr Timmiss added: "While the nearby purpose-built student accommodation was considered as part of this application, as it has different impacts on the local community to HMOs and as the HMO met the criteria for approval, the application was approved."