Bid to block Gilesgate student halls plans for Sherburn Road bingo hall rejected by Durham councilors
Plans to tear down the Apollo bingo hall, in Sherburn Road, Gilesgate, Durham, and replace it with 128-bed student digs were initially approved in January.
The scheme was referred to decision makers at Durham County Council for a second look after new information was presented which appeared to refute the developer’s figures.
But despite this and a host of objections from councillors, neighbors and Durham MP Mary Foy, the proposals were once again given the green light.
See photos of the huge nationwide effort that Tyne and Wear firefighters have joined…
Plans by contenders Durham Grove Ltd and Majestic Bingo for the site, which opened in 1938 and also operated as a cinema and boxing gym, had claimed that 3,000 students living in the town were to be relocated.
However, those figures were disputed by Durham University, which said the three- and four-storey accommodation blocks would not suit its own wallet, although it added that it had no objections in principle to the project.
Speaking to the County Council’s land use planning committee, Opposition Labor leader Carl Marshall said: “We need to have more choice.
“We need to create something higher quality that is more affordable.
“I think travel management tells me we’re going to need more managed student accommodation built in the right place.”
Daniel Puttick, speaking on behalf of the claimant, said the development would make a “significant contribution” to solving a major projected shortage of student beds.
He said the plan had been significantly scaled back as a “meaningful compromise”, it would bring regeneration benefits and the bingo hall was not well used.
He said: ‘The business is simply no longer viable as a going concern and inevitably it will close.
Planning officers deemed the plan acceptable, said it would not significantly harm residents, and recommended its approval.
Senior Planning Officer Leigh Darby told the panel: ‘The current owners have said the business is not viable.
Opponents, who wrote 39 letters, said the plan would unnecessarily deprive the area of a ‘much-loved building’ and replace it with an ‘incongruous’, ‘monolithic’ and ‘too towering’ block that would annoy residents existing.
But five letters in support of the application claimed the site was an eyesore that needed to be regenerated to create jobs and boost the city’s economy.
The plan was approved by a vote of 9 to 6.