Plans to triple the number of student flats at a former hotel site in Durham City Centre have been given the go ahead.
This week, Durham County Council’s Central and East planning committee discussed the latest proposals for the Three Tuns in New Elvet.
Since the hotel’s closure in 2013, the space was used by Durham University for postgraduate student housing before being sold off for redevelopment.
New plans by current owners, Three Tuns Developments Ltd, include demolishing and altering parts of the building to boost room numbers from 50 to 168.
Plans include plugging the gap between the former grade-II listed hotel and police station and demolishing existing extensions at the rear to create space for two new student blocks.
Developers and planning officers assured councillors that listed buildings would not be affected by the works with seven car parking spaces and 36 cycle spaces also planned for the site.
During consultation, five letters of objection were lodged with concerns over potential overdevelopment, noise, highways safety and impact on residents.
A representative for Elvet Methodist Church – which backs onto the site- also spoke at the Durham County Hall meeting on December 11, asking about the potential noise during construction and occupation.
Other concerns included a planned cycle shed area backing onto the the church caretaker’s home and potential disruption to church services due to the boost in student numbers.
Senior planning officer Barry Gavillet said a construction plan would monitor noise and dust and a single point of contact would be provided for residents relating to the development in future.
Director of Space Architects, David Coundon, speaking at the meeting, added the plans represented a “high quality and sustainable use for the city”.
“As a local lad, having such an important site and key building brought back into use right in the heart of the Durham City Centre Conservation Area is vital for the city, we can’t have empty buildings sitting that close,” he said.
He added the plans and designs aimed to boost the conservation area – including restoring the historic street front on New Elvet.
Coun David Freeman, who represents the Elvet and Gilesgate division, said: “There are some merits to the application, clearly the Three Tuns has stood in a fairly derelict state for a number of years and getting it back into use is certainly important.”
He also raised concerns about the height of the student blocks and their impact on the area and the “extremely narrow” footpath serving the Three Tuns.
“We’re actually adding 150 plus occupiers to the site and I do think the footpath as it is, simply can’t cope with the amount of traffic that it gets,” he added.
Following discussion, councillors voted to back the plans with ten voting in favour and one abstention.
The meeting heard that there were no requests from highways officers for conditions around improvements to footpath.
The plans will see developers pay £85,050 towards the area as part of a Section 106 agreement with the council including a condition around providing public art.
A construction management plan will also limit demolition work times to 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, 8am-2pm on Saturday and no works on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service