Go-ahead for 198 uni bedsits

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NEARLY 200 student bedsits will be built in Durham City despite concerns they are not needed.

Councillors voted narrowly to approve the plan for five blocks totalling 198 beds on a former scrapyard in Gilesgate.

The Magdalene Heights site, about 200m east of the Gilesgate/Claypath roundabout on the A690, is currently derelict.

Planning officers told a meeting Durham County Council planning committee that the development would bring brownfield land back into use in a sustainable way.

Coun Bill Moir told the meeting at County Hall in Durham City: “I wonder if this development is really needed. The figures we have from Durham University are that student numbers will increase by about 2,500 by 2020.

“About 3,500 student places have already been approved or are at pre-planning stage.”

Planning officer Chris Baxter said demand for the places is not a material planning consideration.

The committee approved the plan by six votes to five.

Durham University also won approval for a new physics research building within its existing Science Site, off South Road, Durham City.