Student homes plan for wasteground site

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A PATCH of wasteground could be transformed by plans for a 55-bed student accommodation block.

But the bid to redevelop the site at Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, may face opposition from the community.

There was recently much resistance to Centrepoint’s £1million centre for homeless youngsters, being built along the road.

Now the latest planning application is set to be discussed at public meeting – involving ward councillors and senior Sunderland Council officers – about residents’ concerns over antisocial behaviour, the actions of private landlords and the large number of multiple occupancy houses.

East Herrington-based Leah Properties is behind the proposed student accommodation scheme, opposite the medical centre.

An statement accompanying the application said it wanted to “introduce a introduce a vibrant use, that rejuvenates an unsightly piece of brownfield land, within a run-down wider environment.”

Although there have been meetings with council officers, documents showed no formal consolation took place with the community before the planning application was submitted.

Nevertheless, Leah’s Brent McCafferty – who said they would target foreign students who are in the city all year round – is confident of support.

“This will help regenerate the area,” he said. “So I’m hoping the community will back the application.”

However, St Peter’s ward councillor Graham Hall said: “Whereas investment is welcome in this area, which has been badly neglected over many years by the public sector, there is an extraordinarily high amount of houses of multiple occupancy.

“And is has only been recently that the residents have been forced to accept the building of the new Centrepoint development.

“This area has the highest rate of houses of multiple occupancy in the city, and we must make sure that the quality of people’s lives is not diminished by unsympathetic development.”

Coun Hall said the issue would be discussed at a meeting with the community on January 24, from 6pm to 8pm at Enon Baptist Church, St Peter’s View. It has been set up following concerns raised at a previous meeting about the Centrepoint scheme, which was approved by the council despite opposition.

Last month, the Echo reported that a planning application to turn a former residential home, in Thornhill, into a 14-bed multiple occupancy building – initially thought to be for students – was opposed by neighbours.

Sunderland Council’s development control committee rejected it because of potential disturbance and also because “multiple occupation would introduce an uncharacteristic use to an area of predominantly single-family dwellings, and would set an undesirable precedent for similar developments within the area, to the detriment of the established character of the locality”.