Row rumbles on over student flats plan at Sunderland pub site

Councillor Barbara McClennan accepting a petition from Ray Boddy and concerned residents unhappy about plans to turn the former Eastenders pub into student accommodation.
Councillor Barbara McClennan accepting a petition from Ray Boddy and concerned residents unhappy about plans to turn the former Eastenders pub into student accommodation.
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AN application to turn an empty pub into student flats will have to prove there is a need.

Developers want to knock down The Eastender in Sunderland’s East End, and transform it into student flats.

But a planning application submitted to Sunderland City Council has attracted scores of objections from neighbours.

If council planners approve the bid, the former pub would become a four-storey building, home to 41 students.

Members of the East End Residents’ Association are challenging the bid and have collected nearly 400 signatures on a petition objecting to the plans by Naji Property.

Hendon councillor Barbara McClennan told a meeting of the association that the application was supposed to go before councillors and planning officials on October 26.

But as well as residents’ complaints, English Heritage had objected that it was not in keeping with the surrounding conservation area.

She said: “It was sent back to the gentleman who put the application in, to see the issues that have been raised.

“It was brought to light that there was no policy in place to evidence the need, so the council are changing the policy now.

“They made an exception rule and said because of the number of objections, he will have to prove that there is evidence of need for 41 student accommodation, when the university is saying ‘We are the cheapest in the UK and we can’t fill our beds.’”

Coun McClennan added people were afraid the building would become a hostel if students could not be found to fill it.

The application will be looked at again in January.