Present: Roger Cornwell, Jean Rogers, Mike Costello, Liz Brown, Jean Meredith, Kirsty Thomas, Brendan McKeon, Ann Evans, Richard Fong, Odile Fong, Steven Bell, David Ramsden, Simon Squires, Ruth Chambers, Annette Keelty, Kevin Turrington, Jackie Levitas, Alan Doig.
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Drew Agnew, Alexis Cleveland, Cllr. Grenville Holland, William Hunter, Cllr. Nigel Martin, Cllr. Richard Ormerod, Carole Reeves, Clare Wright.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) PCSO Steve Bell sent his apologies: Sgt Kay Howarth will attend our June meeting. Roger Cornwell read Steve's written report, which he then circulated.
b) Priorities continue to be student behaviour, dangerous cycling (as a danger to the cyclists themselves as well as to others) and burglary.
Steven Bell asked how those who wished to contribute to Anita Parker's costs (in preparing reports on the County Hospital planning application) might do so: Roger was attempting to obtain the relevant information, and would contact Steven when he has done so.
6. The County Durham Plan: (absence of) progress report.
a) There has still been no response (beyond the initial acknowledgement) from Councillor Foster to the request for a meeting with the objectors. Roger is attempting to use Freedom of Information channels to obtain a copy of the letter sent by Penny Mordaunt (Local Government Minister) to the Council; this was now out of time. The minutes of the meeting between the Council and the Inspectorate should have been available by now; there seemed to be a problem in both parties agreeing the minutes.
b) Roger had prepared a statement about the information gathered through Freedom of Information requests: Mike Costello outlined the history of his FOI request, and Jean Rogers added the clarifications she had obtained; she felt that the correspondence taken as a whole showed the quality of the Council's "consultation".
c) There was discussion of a profile of Simon Henig in which he is described as preferring a "collegiate style", and which includes the line "His solution is to go back to the people and ask them what they want." Can he be persuaded to apply this approach to relations between the City and the County Council? It was suggested that a way forward might be to invite him to meet a joint meeting of the City residents' groups, on a topic which would not be so confrontational as to prevent communication. Ruth Chambers was asked to approach the other residents' groups for their reactions to this approach. Meanwhile, a link to the article would be circulated to the mailing list.
7. Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSAs)
a) The result was awaited of the response to the attempt to get the Lower Claypath development called in; notices has appeared announcing that demolition work would commence on June 1st, but the Inspectorate had intervened with a stop notice to prevent this, pending the decision whether to call in. There was a similar attempt to get the Kepier Heights development called in.
b) The result of the appeal against refusal of planning consent to convert the Kingslodge Hotel is awaited: the Planning Inspector had made a site visit on April 20th.
c) The developer of the Berendson's site had revised their proposed application (in particular, reduced numbers and massing, with a lower skyline): the application was expected to go before the Planning Committee in June. Ruth had drafted a letter asking for this application, too, to be called in, and it was agreed that the CCP would ask for the development to be added to the attempt to get a global call-in of PBSAs.
d) Roger pointed out that once a Community Infrastructure Levy had been set (with the adoption of the CDP), this would place a much heavier contribution on developers than the current Section 106 payments: this could go some way to explain the current rush of applications for PBSAs, and any Section 106 payments should be seen in this context.
8. Possible Town Council
Discussion of the benefits and costs of a Town Council was handicapped by the absence of anyone in a position to give authoritative answers to questions. However, the petition calling for a referendum on the subject was circulated, and Kirsty Thomas undertook to raise the issue at her local residents' meeting, with a view to setting up a briefing meeting.
9. Neighbourhood Planning Forum
Ann Evans reported that the NPF has now reached the preliminary consultation stage, and is about to circulate a leaflet / questionnaire to all households. For this consultation to be recognised as valid, it is important that everyone returns their completed leaflet. The next stage will be a meeting in the Town Hall at 7.00 pm on Monday 29th June.
10. North Road / Bus Station regeneration
Simon Squires reported his correspondence on this topic with the County Council. He had reminded Jeanette Armin (Principal Project Manager at Durham County Council) that in January she had said that 'a public update will be published soon' and asked what the present situation is. She had replied that "following discussions with senior managers and key stakeholders, the project team have been continuing to develop the design and are now at a position to present the design to be considered and approved by the Council. If approved, this will then be followed by a public exhibition."
The meeting expressed surprise at this, since those attending the previous consultation were told that plans shown there were only an outline, and had understood there would be further consultation before they were finalised.
The CCP, as the body representing residents in the immediate vicinity, had not been one of the "key stakeholders" consulted, and there was some discussion of who these might be. Simon was requested to act on behalf of the CCP in following up this correspondence, and attempt to discover who had been consulted, through a Freedom of Information request.
Jackie Levitas asked whether, given the sensitive nature of the site in Durham's heritage, the City of Durham Trust had been one of those consulted; it was pointed out that there would be an opportunity to discover this at the Trust's AGM the following week.
11. Dedicated Neighbourhood Warden
Mike Costello asked whether people felt the warden was doing a good job. Kevin Turrington was very content with the Warden once he had managed to make contact, but had found it difficult to reach him via the County Hall switchboard. Ruth had also found the Warden helpful.
It was subsequently clarified that people wishing to contact the Warden for routine issues should phone the call centre on 0300 026 1000; for urgent problems, email
12. University / Community issues
The Liaison Group would be meeting the next day; the major item on the agenda was the Green Move Out initiative.
13. Reports from local Councillors
Kevin noted Richard Ormerod's confirmation that cycling down Silver Street is a traffic offence. However the signs at the top of the street referred to 'vehicles' without specifying that this includes bicycles. He would ask Richard for this to be made clear on the signs.
14. Application to resite The Journey
Kirsty Thomas spoke against moving Fenwick Lawson's statue from Millennium Place to the vicinity of the Cathedral. The meeting took no view on this, but asked Kirsty to circulate her letter of objection to the mailing list, so that members could consider whether to support her as individuals.