The City of Durham Trust

New Views of Old Durham

Open meeting – all are welcome

The ever-popular Michael Richardson returns to give the Trust’s Spring Lecture on Saturday 4th March at 2:15pm in Elvet Riverside I, room 141. This is a free event and all are welcome.

Michael Richardson is the archivist of the Gilesgate Archive. He has lived in Durham all his life and is the author of over 20 publications on Durham. He will be sharing some of his latest discoveries in this illustrated talk.

The talk will be preceded by the presentation of the Trust’s Architectural Award for the Ogden Centre West: the new building for the University’s Physics Deprtment on South Road.

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The City of Durham Trust is a membership organisation, and if you care about Durham City you should consider joining us, to support the work we do and influence our policies.

Standard membership costs just £15 a year, with a lower rate of £10 for retired people and discounted joint membership. Life membership is available for £200. This page has an online membership form.

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The County Durham Plan

Trust responds to the Issues and Options consultation

After receiving legal advice, Durham County Council has been obliged to start preparing the County Durham Plan from the beginning, at the Issues and Options stage. (For the background to all this, see New readers start here)

The City of Durham Trust has now submitted responses on 40 separate matters raised in the Council’s Issues and Options consultation, which ended on August 8th. You can read all of them here. Among the points we make are:

The County Durham Plan is important for everyone in County Durham because it will set out the new development that is planned for the county. It contains allocations which show where development will take place and how it will be managed. The Plan also contains policies for determining planning applications. As long as there is planning uncertainty developers will seek to exploit this by pursuing their financial interests regardless of the needs of local communities.

County Hospital Allowed

“A disaster for Durham City” says the Trust

The Inspector’s decision (March 7th) to allow the appeal by Peveril Securities to build student flats at the County Hospital is a disaster for Durham City. This is a site that has great potential, with a historic nineteenth century building at its core, and a superb sustainable location near both bus and rail stations, and close to the city centre shops. To let it go to for unwanted and unneeded student accommodation is a waste, and will blight this area.

The City of Durham Trust and local residents’ group the Crossgate Community Partnership (CCP) made a joint 19-page written submission to Planning Inspector Mrs Yvonne Wright , urging her to refuse the appeal. Both parties and local residents turned up in person at the appeal on 8 December last year to back up the case. But on the day the Council seemed ill-prepared and put forward a very weak case. They failed to challenge manifest errors and misrepresentations in the developer’s case, and were unable to answer straightforward questions of fact from the Inspector. A reading of the Inspector’s report shows many places where the Council could have advanced evidence to support the refusal but did not. As the Inspector makes clear, she could only reach her decision on the basis of the evidence before her.

We argued that the development was contrary to the Interim Student Accommodation Policy, a draft of which was agreed by the Cabinet last summer and consulted on in September and October. This Policy lays out the foundations for balanced communities in the city. The stated plan was to finalise this in November or December, but it has been delayed. The Inspector’s report says “This emerging policy can therefore carry no weight in my decision.”

You can read the Inspector’s report on the Planning Inspectorate website, and the Trust’s press release is here.