Durham City Parish to hold referendum on Thursday

By and

A referendum on neighbourhood planning will be held on Thursday 6th May in Durham City, alongside elections for the Parish Council, Durham County Council and Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Neighbourhood Plan, which was developed in consultation with the local community, will be used to consider planning applications by the County Council. The Plan encompasses six themes, which include sustainability, Durham’s heritage, and affordable housing.

The referendum question is: “Do you want Durham County Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Durham City to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”.

Anyone aged 18 or over who lives in Durham City Parish area and who is registered to vote in the local council elections can vote. Students registered in both their term-time and home addresses can vote in both locations. The deadline for postal vote applications has now passed.

The Plan notes the impact of a large student population in Durham: “large areas of the City are predominantly populated by young adults for half of the year and virtually empty the other half, with consequent effects on local shops, facilities and community cohesion.” It sets out policies to help ensure sufficient affordable housing and housing for the elderly.

One of the many objectives of the Plan is to “to change the imbalance towards student accommodation back to a sustainable, balanced community”. It notes that the University’s Masterplan indicates the intention to add new colleges to the University in the coming years.

Expressing concern that student demand for living out may be met in coming years, it describes the scenario as “retrograde”, noting it “would require a reduction in the scale and pace of growth by Durham University”. The Plan would also place requirements on housing developers to provide affordable housing and for the elderly.

Durham City Parish includes Neville’s Cross, Elvet, and Gilesgate, and the part of the ward of Durham South.

Full details of the plan can be found here, and more details on the local election and candidates will feature in the print edition of Palatinate, to be distributed in Durham City on Thursday.

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