A CONTROVERSIAL housing development on the site of a former bus depot in Durham City has been given the go-ahead.
Gentoo Housing has been given the green light to build 19 town houses on the Arriva depot near the junction of Waddington Street and Ainsley Street.
Transport company Arriva already has permission for a depot at Belmont.
Three of the houses will be affordable homes with the rest being sold at market value.
Durham County Council’s planning committee imposed a condition banning multi-occupancy to allay fears the development could become student bedsits.
Emma Bond, for Gentoo, stressed to the committee meeting held at the Glebe Centre, Murton, that the company is building family homes.
The City of Durham Trust said housing is a sensible use for the land, but the development may be too dense.
Councillors approved the application subject to several conditions, including the preservation of mature beech trees on the western edge of the site.
Councillors agreed to a range of conditions aimed at allaying fears of residents over the potential impact of the development on the neighbouring Flass Vale local nature reserve and the prospect of the homes being used for student lets.
Earlier, Val Standers, chairman of the Friends of Flass Vale, told the committee residents had mounted a successful campaign in 1973 to save it from a housing development.
Since the friends group was formed in 2002, it has actively managed the nature reserve to enhance its biodiversity.
“Our main concerns about the development remain, including the threat to mature beech trees on the western boundary,” she said.
“We would like greater protection for them.”
Mrs Standers said there were also fears about the lack of a buffer zone between the houses and the reserve and over the effects of light pollution on the wildlife.
Ward councillor Grenville Holland said: “Durham MP Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods rightly draws attention to the fact this proposed development is in the heart of student accommodation lets.
“Almost every house in this viaduct area is a student let.
“There must be a mechanism put in place to protect the integrity of this development and ensure that it becomes a small community of families enjoying what is a lovely setting.”
Details of lighting will be agreed by officers and final negotiations will be held with Gentoo over its contribution to affordable housing.