December 13, 2011 | Community News
Colin Beswick MBE, who sat on Durham City Council for more than 40 years, has given his support to the updated plans for the site that were revealed recently by the Meadowfield-based Banks Group, which focus primarily on executive housing, but which also include a significant amount of high-quality student accommodation.
And Mr Beswick, who represented the ward in which the Mount Oswald site is located, has highlighted the changes that have happened in the area during his time in Durham as showing why the proposed develop is now required.
Having originally come to Durham to study in the 1950s, Mr Beswick stayed after marrying a local girl and raised his family in the Crossgate area.
He was first elected to the Council in 1962, served as Mayor in 1970-71 and also acted as chair of the Council’s planning committee for many years. He finally stepped down from the Council in 2003.
The student accommodation included in the Mount Oswald development plans has been designed to provide new first class living space and to help 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, something which Mr Beswick believes is very much needed.
Mr Beswick says: “The Crossgate area has changed massively during my time in Durham, and student accommodation now dominates an area that was once mostly populated by families.
“Whilst students clearly need somewhere to live when they come to Durham to study, the current situation has a direct knock-on effect on the facilities that are available to local people.
“The Council wants the County to develop with Durham at its centre – it’s always been that way throughout my time here and I think these ambitions will always remain the same.
“The student accommodation in the Mount Oswald development plans would really take the heat off the property market in the Crossgate area, and they provide a real opportunity to restore some balance to the communities in this part of the city.
“I’ve worked closely with Banks on many projects, including the development of the New College site at Neville’s Cross, and have a lot of faith in the way they work – my experience is that they listen carefully to local opinion when developing their plans and I’m sure this scheme will be treated no differently.”
A detailed public consultation process is being undertaken by Banks around the new proposals, to ensure all interested parties are fully informed about what is being put forward and have the chance to express their views about it.
As well as the new homes and student accommodation, the plans also include over 3.5km of new public footpaths across the site which will link communities with surrounding green spaces at Blaid’s Wood and the Woodland Trust’s Low Burnhall site.
A new 2.5 acre park will be located at the centre of the site and will enhance the environment for wildlife in the area through new tree planting and habitat creation.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “It’s gratifying that someone who knows this area so well, and who has played such a prominent role in representing it over such a long period of time is so supportive of our proposals for the Mount Oswald site.
“Aside from enhancing the local property market, the realisation of this scheme would provide many benefits to the area, including creating employment opportunities for local people, bringing increased revenues for the local and regional economies and new community facilities including areas of public open space and play equipment to the area.
“Other schemes that we’ve previously undertaken in the area have led to the creation of new developments of this type, including the public open space at Sheraton Park and the new all-weather pitch at Meadowfield, and we’re also already looking for ideas from local people about the sorts of community facilities, such as a small retail outlet, health centre or recreational facilities, that could be incorporated into our final planning application.
“We believe our proposals very much fit in with the local authority’s vision for the city’s future, and we are actively engaging with all interested parties to get their views and ideas about what we’re proposing for this important location.”
Anyone 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 firstname.lastname@example.org