Controversial student housing plan approved for Sunderland listed building

The old Monkwearmouth College on Swan Street.
The old Monkwearmouth College on Swan Street.
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PLANS to turn a former college into 68 student bedrooms will go ahead after a planning committee was told not to accept a challenge by Sunderland University.

The university had objected to Dr Ajit Jaiswal’s plans to convert the former Monkwearmouth College, Grade II-listed building in Swan Street into student accommodation.

Sunderland University described the application as “speculative”, demonstrating “no understanding of the need for student accommodation or the university’s business plan”.

Councillor Bob Francis, at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s development control committee, questioned where the tenants were going to come from if there was already a surplus in student housing.

“We’ve heard this before about student accommodation – that there is more than adequate for the university,” he said.

“Why is it necessary to have even more? We’ve seen this before. We’ve queried why people wanted to have quite large developments.”

However, senior planner Danielle Pearson warned that the council has been told by the planning inspectorate not to take such challenges into account.

“This is a standard response from the university,” she said.

“The university have an economic interest. It’s in their interest to have control over the accommodation.

“We need to let the market determine whether there is a need.

“A developer is not going to pursue a scheme that will leave 68 bedrooms vacant.”