Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the General Meeting 5th August 2013

1. Attendance:
Present: Liz Brown, Simon Squires, Carole Reeves, Ann Evans, Mike Costello, Ruth Chambers, Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr Nigel Martin, Dick Fong, Odile Fong, Lesley Aers, and PCSO Steve Bell.
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Roger Cornwell, Jean Rogers, David Ramsden, Kirsty Thomas, Jean Meredith, Annie Brown, and Cllr Grenville Holland.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session, report from PCSO Steve Bell
a) PCSO Bell handed out copies of report detailing events on Crime Beats D1A, D1B and D1G, plus incidences of anti-social behaviour (ASB); the report is available online. Three alcoholic, homeless men are identified as being responsible for most of the ASB offences in North Road; police are currently preparing ASBO files for these individuals.
b) Existing City areas notified as "A Designated Public Place" are being equipped with new signage where needed. PCSO Bell explained that the designation gives Police Officers, PCSOs and designated persons (Street Wardens) the power to seize alcohol within the area; signs must be displayed around the area outlining the law. If someone is acting anti-socially and may cause further trouble, they are given a direction to leave by a Police Constable (section 27) and issued with a map, then made to leave the area for up to 48 hours or face arrest. Mike Costello mentioned CCP had requested that a "Designated Place" sign be put in Allergate Park, and PCSO Bell noted this for follow-up.
c) Number of cycle thefts declined last month. Ruth Chambers asked what could be done about abandoned bikes (three spotted chained to various items in Crossgate area since end of university term). Not a police matter, but PCSO Bell would check with Neighbourhood Wardens.
d) On 29 September Durham Constabulary are having a crime awareness-raising day for Freshers.
e) Review of Priorities: it was decided to keep bicycle thefts as a current priority.
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were agreed as a correct record, with the addition of following under item 5c (Clean & Green Move-out), as requested by Simon Squires: "The suggestion was made that landlords be required to engage in the Move-out as a condition of being included on the list of approved university lodgings".
5. Matters arising
a) County Hospital site: It was noted that no action had yet been taken as per the minutes of 2nd July; it was resolved to ask Roger Cornwell to request the development brief and seek a meeting with planners.
b) 51 The Avenue: Ann Evans reported that the planning officer in charge of the application had been in discussion with the applicant's agent to propose that the garden wall be reinstated along with a 'green boundary', plus a request for new skylight design. Cllr Nigel Martin agreed to follow this up with the case officer to ask if the applicant can be made to comply.
c) Clean and Green Move Out: University feedback on how to improve matters, as promised by Matt Deakin, has not materialised. Nigel agreed to contact Anne Sayers to follow this up. Mike mentioned that he'd reported to the council several instances of poor landlord upkeep of properties, but response has been that no action can be taken in those cases; disappointing, in contrast to good council action on clearing up post-Move Out.
d) Allergate Park: No construction work has taken place to date. Nigel mentioned that the timing is in the hands of the appointed contractors, and a start is expected in September.
e) Other matters: A letter published in Durham Times on 26th July asserted that the Ainsley Street developers would need to purchase a "ransom strip" of land from the Miners Hall in order to assure access rights to the development site.
Cllr Ormerod agreed to follow up with the Halifax Building Society the possibility of siting railings on their building at the bottom of Crossgate.
6. Consultation on plans for construction of student accommodation
a) Sheraton Park: Nigel Martin and Ann Evans had attended the public consultation event by Alumno Developments and their management company Derwent Homes. The scheme appears similar to the Fred Henderson site, but larger (400+ places), with places to be targeted at postgraduate and and some undergraduate students. There is no formal relationship between developers and university, but it seems encouraging that Derwent Homes has a 20-year track record of management experience in student sector. Local residents want input to open space and parking allocations.
b) Old Britannia Pub, Gilesgate: A retrospective application has been made to allow a further two rooms in this property (permission granted originally for 10 rooms).
c) Ann Evans was concerned about many current student accommodation applications stating that they are targeted towards postgrads and overseas students. There appears no firm evidence of whether/how developers are tying in with the university accommodation strategy: if there is no demand from these student groups, what is to prevent developers filling spaces with undergrads?
7. Councillors' Reports
a) Nigel mentioned the application to convert the Pot & Glass pub (Crossgate Moor) to a Sainsbury's Local store. The change of use is not subject to planning permission, but installation of refrigeration plant is.
b) Richard Ormerod reported that he was looking for council to enforce the non-right turn rule for taxis, at the bottom of Crossgate.
8. Shifting the Balance of Durham City housing availability
A draft discussion paper has been prepared by Jonathan Elmer, working with Kirsty Thomas, Michael Costello and Frank Newton, which describes the impact of the runaway growth of HMOs on the City housing market. The paper "identifies options for addressing this negative impact and challenges the University and County Council to work collectively on the development of a bilateral Blueprint for a Balanced Community."
Comments on the draft from all City residents' groups are being sought so it can be revised before being sent to the council and university. CCP members are requested to before 3rd September, in readiness for a group discussion of the paper at the next CCP meeting.
9. Communications between residents' groups
Ann Evans noted that there are six residents' groups in the City, and it would make sense if each was aware of the issues others are addressing. This could be achieved by, e.g. sending representatives from one group to attend others' meetings periodically, and/or having a joint meeting once a year. Ann agreed to draft a letter elaborating on this, for CCP approval prior to circulation to the other groups.
Discussion followed about the position of the Balanced and Sustainable Communities Forum (which has not met this year) and relationship to the Neighbourhood Planning Forum currently being formed; Mike Costello agreed to contact Roberta's office to clarify the position.
10. Any Other Business
a) Blocked gulleys/drains are apparent in The Avenue and Hawthorn Terrace after recent heavy rain. Suggested that Streescene are contacted; Nigel will follow up with Council to arrange gulley cleaning.
b) The Shell garage site on Newcastle Road has been derelict for a long time, and Liz Brown noted that Japanese knotweed is growing. Nigel will enquire with Council regarding site status and owner's responsibilities re knotweed.
11. Date of the next meeting
Tuesday 3rd September 2013.