New development plans for Mount Oswald site set to benefit city and university

September 23, 2011 | Community News

New proposals for the development of the Mount Oswald Golf Club in Durham will benefit people who live, work and study in the city, according to the local firm behind them.

The Meadowfield-based Banks Group is set to reveal details of new proposals which will focus primarily on executive housing, but which will also include a significant amount of high-quality student accommodation, which would be located adjacent to Van Mildert College.

The new student accommodation would help to establish more balanced communities in Durham city centre by freeing up properties that are currently occupied by student housing for use by families, young professionals and other groups.

And the new proposals have also been designed to alleviate concerns related to an increase in local traffic levels that had been expressed in some quarters about Banks’ initial development plans, which were withdrawn by the company in 2009.

A detailed public consultation process will be undertaken once the draft proposal has been finalised, to ensure local residents are fully informed about what is being put forward and have the chance to express their views about it, and this will begin with a public exhibition of the outline proposals that will take place between 3pm and 7pm on Monday 3 October at the Lindisfarne Centre in St Aidan’s College on Windmill Hill in the city.

Representatives of Banks Property will be on hand at the event to answer any questions visitors have about the scheme and to gather feedback from them which will be used in the development of the Mount Oswald proposal.

Banks will also be looking for ideas from local people about the sorts of community facilities, such as a small retail outlet, health centre or community centre that could be incorporated into the final planning application that will go to the county council for consideration later this year.

The Mount Oswald site is being considered for development as part of the Durham Core Strategy process.

Harry Banks, chairman and chief executive at The Banks Group, says: “This proposal represents a very significant investment in the regional economy at a time when few other companies are making this level of commitment, and in the 42 years I have lived in Durham City, I see it as one of the biggest steps forward for the area in social and economic terms.

“Student accommodation is clearly a very pressing issue for people in the city, both for those who are studying here and those that live here full-time, and the allowance we have made for this in our proposals could help to rebalance the make-up of city centre communities whilst providing students with purpose built, high quality accommodation.

“Alongside this, the realisation of this scheme would provide many employment opportunities for local people, and by the very nature of its size, would result in a tangible boost to the local and regional economies.

“We believe our proposal very much fit in with the local authority’s vision for the city’s future, and we will be actively engaging with all interested parties over the coming months to get their views and ideas about what we’re proposing for this important location.”

Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, Professor Chris Higgins, adds: “The university is committed to ensuring that Durham remains a place that will attract the best and brightest talent from across the world to live, work and study in the city.

“We also encourage all of our staff, students and visitors to contribute positively to the local economy and to the wider community through culture, arts and sport as well as outreach and volunteering.

“We are committed to attracting a greater proportion of our student body to remain in university-owned college accommodation and we’re currently developing an accommodation strategy to ensure that we consider carefully our responsibilities to our students and to the wider community.

“This strategy will consider a number of development options including the Mount Oswald site, where we are working with Banks Property to consider the potential for student accommodation.”

Anyone who is unable to attend the 3 October exhibition, but who would like more information on the new Mount Oswald development proposals can contact the Banks community relations team by calling 0191 378 6100 or emailing mountoswald@banksgroup.co.uk

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