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Durham County Council

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Stronger rules on city student houses

Published February 25, 2016 3.36pm


Rules requiring planning permission before family homes can be turned into student accommodation in Durham City will come into force later in the year.

The decision comes after consultation with local residents and businesses showed strong support for the proposal with over 74 percent of those responding backing the move.

Further feedback was given which could also see the rules extended to cover the Framwellgate Moor area on the outskirts of the city.

Article 4 direction

We recently carried out the consultation in Durham City about the introduction of an Article 4 direction. Once in place, this would remove the permitted development rights - under national planning regulations - that currently allow owners to turn properties into small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without planning permission.

By bringing these conversions into the planning process, we can consider the impacts of such a change as well as allowing local residents to have their say on applications.

The introduction of an Article 4 direction requires a year's notice before it can come into force. With the process having started in September 2015 - and following the successful consultation - we have now confirmed that the order will be enacted in September 2016. Introducing an Article 4 direction has no effect on homes already converted.  

Framwellgate Moor

As part of the consultation sessions, local residents also suggested that the Framwellgate Moor area - including Pity Me and Newton Hall - could benefit from its own Article 4 direction given the increasing, although still relatively low, numbers of students in the area. As a result, we will now look to carry out fresh consultations with local residents on the proposal.

Key issue

Cllr Neil Foster, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said: "It's important to stress that students are very welcome in Durham City and the council recognises the vital role they play in both the culture and economy of our county.

"But we're also acutely aware that student accommodation is a key issue for residents living in and around Durham City. By introducing Article 4 directions we can make sure that we achieve the right balance for the city and the community."