Sunderland University fights plans to turn former college into student accommodation

The old Monkwearmouth College on Swan Street.
The old Monkwearmouth College on Swan Street.
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PLANS to turn a former college grade II-listed building into student accommodation have been hit with fierce opposition from Sunderland University.

Dr Ajit Jaiswal has applied for planning permission and listed buildings consent to create 68 en-suite bedrooms in the former Monkwearmouth College in Swan Street.

But Sunderland University bosses fear that, should the development go ahead, it would threaten its own accommodation business plan.

The university, its objection says, has had surplus of its own accommodation for a number of years as supply outstrips demand.

Sunderland City Council’s development control sub-committee is due to hear the application tonight to decide whether it should be permitted. The university describes the application as “speculative”, demonstrating “no understanding of the need for student accommodation or the university’s business plan”, adding that “the role of the university should not be undermined”.

“The university maintains its position that speculative student accommodation proposals should not be permitted without demonstrating a need and certainly without any engagement with the university,” it states.

The building was most recently a training centre run by Wearmouth Community Development Trust, under the name of the Swan Street Centre.

However, it has been standing empty for more than 18 months.

In his application Dr Jaiswal argues that as the centre was run by a not-for-profit organisation, yet still operated at a loss, its continued use as a community centre was not viable.

Under Dr Jaiswal’s proposals, 60 bedrooms would be created on the building’s ground floor, with eight in the turrets.

There would also be two large communal lounges, dining and kitchen areas.

Four new windows would be added to the back of the building, while three previously existing windows will be reinstated.

No recommendation as to whether the application should be permitted has been made ahead of tonight’s committee meeting.