Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the General Meeting 2nd December 2013

1. Attendance:
Present: Jean Rogers, Roger Cornwell, Dot Patterson, Lesley Aers, William Hunter, John Pacey, O. Johnsen, Jean Meredith, Annie Brown, Liz Brown, Mary Sales, Ann Evans, Mike Costello, Bill Simpson, Barbara Ravelhofer, Carole Reeves
PCSO Steven Bell
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Alexis Cleveland, David Ramsden, Ruth Chambers, Dick Fong, Odile Fong, Simon Squires, Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr Nigel Martin, Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr David Freeman, Jim and Halina Good
Barbara Ravelhofer for lateness.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
PCSO Steve Bell summarised his written report, which had been circulated, though quite late. Recurring themes were:
  • Shoplifting and retail fraud
  • Noisy parties, expected to continue for the next couple of weeks until term ends. Police respond to calls as soon as they can; on one occasion police who were already in the neighbourhood arrived within five minutes of being called out. They ask students for names and colleges, and pass these to the university, but Steve does not receive feedback on any resultant action.
  • Burglaries and thefts which are often opportunistic, taking advantage of open doors, unsecured bicycles etc.
A Community Engagement exercise is being carried out in the Nevilles Cross area. Local beat teams are going door to door, offering advice and encouraging involvement. Steve was asked to report to a future meeting on how successful this had been.
Review of Priorities Police were asked to continue to prioritise cycle thefts and noisy parties.
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were agreed as a correct record.
5. Matters arising
a) 51 The Avenue: Following the revised application (circulated by Ruth Chambers), Ann Evans had telephoned case officer Laura Eden, with whose help she had succeeded in finding the application on the council's website. She had asked whether the applicant was seeking approval for conversion to an HMO, as was told that according to the applicant's agent, 'it has been an HMO for years' (this is not the case).
Mike Costello has asked Phil Raine (Police University Liaison Officer) to inform the residents of 51 The Avenue that they are currently breaking the law each time they drive across the pavement to park in front of the house.
Ann will be making a personal objection to the application.
Since several members of the group had experienced great difficulty in using the council's website (and since planning applications can no longer be consulted at the library), the meeting decided to ask Ruth to raise the inadequacy of the website on our behalf with our councillors.
b) Reinstatement of play area in Allergate Park: the area has now been returfed, but it is fenced off and no play equipment has been installed. The meeting asked Ruth to ask our councillors what is going on, and when the work will be completed.
c) County Hospital site: Roger and Mike had both attended a meeting of the Neighbourhood Planning Forum with Signet Planning; Signet were adamant that they would not consider any use of the site other than student housing. They claimed to have been in discussion with the university: Roger had put in a Freedom of Information request for details of any meetings.
The residents of Parkside had invited Signet to meet them, and Steve Bell told the meeting what had been said: the plan was still to convert the old building to accommodation for postgraduates, and to surround it with new four-story blocks for second-years. The residents had asked for outward-facing security, so that students would be on camera when returning at night; they also wanted to retain more trees, to screen the new building. Signet argued that some of the trees were non-native species, or in poor health, but this was disputed.
The planning application was expected to be submitted on December 16th. If the usual deadline for comments is imposed, this timing will make objecting very difficult. It was agreed that if possible, it should be placed on the agenda of our January meeting, but that the trustees were mandated to object on our behalf if necessary.
d) The planning application for Neville's Cross Social Club has been withdrawn and has been / will be resubmitted as a purely residential development (without the bar). The City of Durham Trust has identified this site as particularly suitable for housing for older people (close to bus stops etc.).
e) Voluntary code of practice on letting boards: Mike Costello and Carole Reeves had attended a meeting of the AAP Housing subgroup at which the Chairman of the Council's Housing Committee had been present, as well as officers from the Planning department. Planning officers now admit that the voluntary code has failed, and will start working towards statutory control under Regulation 7 (on advertising consent). The meeting felt that this was not only welcome but overdue.
f) Traffic on Crossgate: Cllr Richard Ormerod had sent a message that he hopes to get CCTV installed by the former taxi rank, to identify taxis still waiting there. It was not clear if this would make it possible to identify and pursue taxis making illegal right turns at the North Road/Milburngate junction.
g) Cyclists in Durham: It was agreed that there are real problems with cyclists riding on pavements, going down Crossgate (which is one way uphill) and so on. Some of these problems could be addressed if cyclists encouraged to ride responsibly by the provision of cycle lanes etc. Is there any organisation campaigning for this? Jean Rogers and Roger Cornwell will research this.
h) It had been agreed that PCSO Martin Haigh (Alcohol Harm Reduction Unit) would attend a future PACT meeting which would focus on alcohol-related problems, and that he would be accompanied by the president of Josephine Butler College JCR. It was agreed that they should be invited to our February meeting.
6. The CCP's response to the County Durham Plan
The strategy agreed at the previous meeting was to endorse the submissions of like-minded bodies where possible, and to focus our efforts on drawing up our own submission on the impact of studentification on Crossgate. The Green Belt Campaign had circulated guidance for individual objections, and urged people to use this rather than the council's pro forma. The campaign would be calling for the Plan to be withdrawn; agreed we should link to the Green Belt website from our site.
Meanwhile, the City of Durham Trust is finalising its evidence, and we will also link to that as soon as it is available.
The meeting agreed that the secretary should be asked to write to the council expressing the group's support for these submissions.
Barbara Ravelhofer had produced a document on the impact of student residences and HMOs: she outlined its conclusions, and would circulate a draft next day.
7. Other Business
a) John Pacey expressed interest in the Neighbourhood Planning Forum: Roger will circulate information.
b) The Crossgate CIU is downsizing, and is in the process of converting part of the premises to student lets. Planning consent for this has been refused, and the owners had lodged an appeal. Agreed that local councillors might be able to give us some background on this.
c) Ruth had suggested the CCP meet for a Christmas Social: agreed for Tuesday 17th December, 8.00 pm at the Colpitts.
8. Date of the next meeting
Tuesday 7th January 2014.