Plans to convert the old M & Co building on Silver Street into a block of nine student apartments have been approved. The proposals include a one-story extension to the existing structure, which has raised concerns due to the location in a conservation area – near a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Seven opponents of the plans included the coordinator of the World Heritage site, members of the parish council and the City of Durham Trust: all raised concerns about the damage to the conservation area and the neighboring heritage site.
A representative of the parish council, Liz Brown, said the council saw the plan as a violation of policies to protect the conservation area and consisting of “excessive development under the walls of the castle and the cathedral“.
At the meeting, Brown warned: “May I remind members that it is not so long ago that Liverpool were stripped of their World Heritage status due to the cumulative and irreversible effect of a development. unfriendly in his environment.
“A vote in favor of this request today puts us one step closer to a similar fate in Durham. We must not allow this to happen.
Durham planning officers said the plans would benefit the region. Ian Kettlewell, agent for developers Metropolis Land and Property Developments Ltd, told advisers that the proposals “would provide a wide range of benefits” such as 185 jobs and Investment of £ 4.2m.
However, many are still not convinced of the benefits of the project, especially in the context of a recent wave of new student housing blocks and the importance of UNESCO World Heritage Site status for the nomination of the County Durham at 2025 UK City of Culture.
Durham County Council is reviewing plans for private student accommodation on the site of the former Apollo Bingo Hall in Gilesgate and the University strategy 2017-2027 includes the construction of 4-6 new colleges in the city.
Right on Silver Street, number 37-38 has already received approval for conversion to student apartments and both 4-6 Silver Street and 12 Silver Street are under consideration for the upper floors to be converted into HMOs.
John Lowe, chairman of the City of Durham Trust, said they continue “to be concerned about the number of requests for upper floor conversions along Silver St, Saddler St and Market Place. These remain uncoordinated for cumulative impact.
At the proposal discussion meeting, Councilor Jonathan Elmer expressed his concerns that the “cumulative impact of building after building after building” could threaten World Heritage status.
“I have to conclude that this is going to have a net negative impact on the heritage value of the city. I really think we should listen to the local people.
Image: Law of Beatrice