Mount Oswald development plans set to support city’s future economic development

September 26, 2012 | Mt Oswald News

Ongoing work to help reaffirm and enhance Durham City’s leading role in the County’s continuing economic development will be supported by plans for the development of the Mount Oswald site.

Durham-based Banks Property has submitted proposals for the site which have been designed to support Durham’s position as both a regional centre for inward investment and an economic driver for the wider region.

The outline application includes an allocation for student accommodation. Durham University has recently completed a Residential Accommodation Strategy, which sets out its direction and priorities in this area for the next eight years, and which focuses on the ongoing need to keep improving the quality and quantity of its collegiate-style student accommodation as part of maintaining the University’s position as one of Europe’s leading centres of learning. 

The University has submitted a letter of support to Durham County Council in respect of the student accommodation element of the development proposals put forward by locally-based Banks Property.  The University will now be working with Banks to explore the feasibility of establishing a collegiate presence on the north east corner of the site which could include the development of up to 1,000 bed spaces.

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “The University’s residential, college-based character is an important part of our distinctiveness.  Any potential new student accommodation on the site would be developed to house a balanced academic community for undergraduates, postgraduates, Fellows and senior academic staff, with our well-tried and tested support mechanisms in place to deliver student support. Our direct involvement would mean that any new development would not be a Hall of Residence, but would be part of our Collegiate brand.

“Improving the quality of the accommodation that we offer and increasing the residential capacity of the University estate are crucial elements in ensuring we provide the most comprehensive academic and extra-curricula offering and therefore continue to attract the very best students.

“We believe that the Mount Oswald site may have the potential to contribute to these requirements, and will be working with Banks to assess if and how this might be realised in practice.”

As well as student accommodation, Banks’ development proposal for the Mount Oswald site includes mixed housing, new community facilities, a convenience store and new public open spaces, and has been designed to support Durham City’s position as both a regional centre for inward investment and an economic driver for the wider region.

If it is approved, the scheme would support around 220 local jobs, with around 120 people employed on site during the construction phase of the scheme, and a further 100 jobs across the supply chain.  Up to a further 116 jobs could be supported by the different elements of the development when it is complete.

The Mount Oswald site is identified in the preferred options of the new draft County Durham Plan as being suitable for housing and student accommodation development.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “The University makes a massive economic and social contribution to both the city and the wider region, and we firmly believe that our Mount Oswald proposals offer an excellent way in which future student accommodation objectives might be realised.

“We are very pleased to be working in principle with the University in examining how this development might be shaped to meet their particular requirements, and how it can contribute towards maintaining its position as one of the UK’s preeminent academic institutions.

“As well as contributing to the University’s development, the Mount Oswald scheme would help to reinforce the Council’s aspiration for Durham City to  become the driving force for economic growth across the whole county, and the much-needed homes and services it would provide would both meet the present needs of local people and help to attract and retain the highly-skilled workforce needed to help the area realise its full economic potential.”

Banks submitted a planning application for the development of the Mount Oswald site to Durham County Council in August, and a decision on it is hoped for before the end of the year.  Anyone who would like more information on the proposals can contact the Banks community relations team on 0191 378 6100 or www.banksgroup.co.uk/mount-oswald

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