Plans for new student accommodation withdrawn after MP criticism

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The Planning Application for several blocks of student accommodation has been withdrawn after its approval was met with criticism from the local MP, Mary Foy.

The proposed plan would have seen existing buildings demolished in order to build 3 blocks consisting of 65 bedrooms along with 15 parking spaces on Clay Lane in the Neville;s Cross area.

The plans were met with over 100 objections from local groups and residents, with many citing the danger that this development could add to the road through increased traffic. Many, including Mary Foy MP, claimed that there was no need for more student housing in Durham, with the shortage of student accommodation being a ‘false claim’ as the University plans on reducing student intake in the next few years.

Whilst there are no plans to reduce overall student numbers, intake sizes have been reduced in recent years after Covid-19 grade inflation caused an unanticipated bump in the size of cohorts. Additionally, the University is working towards 45% of students living in Uni-managed accommodation by 2027/2028, up from 39% last academic year.

Many, including Mary Foy MP, claimed that there was no need for more student housing in Durham

The planning permission was originally rejected by Durham County Council. After an appeal was made to the Planning Inspectorate, the executive agency in charge of planning, it was instead approved to go ahead. Mary Foy MP criticised the Planning Inspectorate for their decision, demanding that family homes be protected in Durham: “I’m dismayed the Planning Inspectorate overturned these decisions by Durham County Council. They were entirely in line with the council’s own planning policies, yet the inspectors have chosen to focus on one policy alone.

“These appeal decisions have simply ignored the policies that are designed to protect and enhance our communities, and I will be contacting the Planning Inspectorate to highlight the impact these decisions will have on the city.”

When contacted for comment, the Planning Inspectorate told Palatinate that “Inspectors are independent and impartial. When making a decision, Inspectors give careful consideration to the evidence submitted at the time of the appeal taking account of current planning legislation, guidance and policy.”

The reasons are still unclear for the developer withdrawing the plans. Palatinate has contacted the developer for their comment on this.

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