Durham is getting a new 850-bed student accommodation to combat the housing crisis

The council approved the development plans despite opposition from angry locals

In a planning meeting on Tuesday, Durham County Council approved plans for a new student accommodation site which will sleep up to 850 students.

The accommodation plans were pitched by Banks Group, a development company local to Durham. Banks Group plan to build 11 buildings, which will mostly be made up of cluster flats of five to 10 bedrooms. Plans also contain a small amount of studio apartments and /or townhouses.

The new accommodation will be built on the currently unused ground behind John Snow College, on Mount Oswald. This will make it the student accommodation furthest down South Road, or as students call it, the hill.

Plans for new student accommodation come amid Durham’s ongoing a housing crisis. Last October, Durham students resorted to sleeping on the street whilst waiting to see a housing agency.

The housing crisis has left many students unable to find accommodation in Durham for the next academic year. One Durham University student argued the housing crisis is pushing working class students out of the city.

The university has come under fire for the way it has handled the housing crisis amid anger it should have known the housing stock could not meet the ever-increasing intake of students.

Pro-Vice Chancellor Jeremey Cook admitted the university is partially responsible for the housing crisis. He said: “The current pressures on student accommodation are a result of the additional student intake.” However, he stopped short of taking full responsibility arguing the Covid pandemic’s effect on A-level grade inflation is responsible for this.

Local residents submitted 33 letters opposing the council’s decision to build student accommodation on Mount Oswald, fearing that Durham University students will cause noise disturbance late at night. Residents also cited a lack of privacy as a reason for the accommodation not to be built.

One resident explained: “Durham is a university city and the need to provide accommodation is understandable, but this needs to be done in a way that considers other residents who also call the city home. There is a fundamental lack of evidence why the expansion is needed here and now”.

Banks Group argue that this new accommodation site in fact frees up Durham city for residents, claiming that: “Without these buildings, that number of students would have been imposed upon residential areas of the city, as well as the city centre, in the form of houses in multiple occupation or smaller ad hoc student developments”.

More details concerning the new student accommodation site are expected to be released in the near future.

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