Historic Sunderland-Durham rail station buildings to become university offices after plans approved
University plans to convert the ‘last remaining relics’ of a railway station into offices have been given the green light.
The properties, in Green Lane, Durham City, once formed part of the former Durham Elvet Railway Station, which served the Durham-Sunderland Line up to the 1950s.
But following an application by Durham University, the row of four terraced houses will become offices after the scheme was approved by bosses at Durham County Council.
County councillor for the Elvet and Gilesgate areas of the city David Freeman said: “These houses have been occupied relatively recently.
“The university claims no one wants to live there but I think that is down to Durham University, which has allowed the buildings to run down.
“They are the last remaining relics of what was Elvet Railway Station and I think there is a historic reason for preserving these properties.
“The history of Durham City is not just the castle and the cathedral, it is also its industrial heritage.”
Cllr Freeman was speaking at a meeting of the county council’s Area Planning Committee for central and east Durham, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Cllr Paul Taylor also spoke against the plans, but conceded the panel was unlikely to find an acceptable way of rejecting the proposals without leaving the council open to future legal action to overturn the decision.
According to a report for councillors, the university claimed converting the homes to offices will return them to a ‘beneficial use’ by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
The university’s ‘Estates Masterplan’ includes provision for a ‘new home’ for the department, but adds until that can be completed it must ‘utilise existing space’.
It also raised the prospect of converting the buildings back to houses at some point.
Although councillors on the panel had reservations about the plans for Green Lane, a separate application for a property in Victoria Terrace, also in Durham City, received a warmer reception.
Permission was sought to refurbish the four-storey block of flats in the city’s conservation area by replacing windows, adding a conservatory and removing an ‘unsightly external steel fire escape’.
The panel voted unanimously to approve the scheme.