Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the General Meeting 1st July 2014

1. Attendance:
Present: Roger Cornwell, Ann Evans, Liz Brown, Jean Meredith, Simon Squires, John Knowles, Sheila Knowles, Ruth Chambers, A. Lockhart, Alan Doig, P.J. [Rowell], David Ramsden, Carole Reeves, Kevin Turrington, Simon Priestley, Cllr Nigel Martin, Jean Rogers
Claire Wright.
2. Apologies for absence:
had been received from PCSO Steven Bell, Dick Fong, Odile Fong, Mike Costello, Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr. Richard Ormerod.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) No-one from the police was able to attend the meeting (PCSO Steven Bell was on holiday) but a police report was circulated, comprising the regular crime report from Steven Bell and additional report on current work from Phil Raine, University Liaison Officer.
b) Review of Priorities: it was agreed that since cycle theft was much reduced in frequency, it should, for the time being, be removed from the list of priorities; similarly, noisy parties were a seasonal problem and should be dropped. However, the summer move out was continuing to generate problems with fly-tipping and littering, and the resultant mess caused by people scavenging in bags of waste, and this should continue to be a priority, alongside obstructive parking in Waddington Street.
c) University Liaison: there was general discussion of Phil Raine's report, and Roger Cornwell was asked to invite Phil to our September meeting. Items singled out for comment included:
  • Would the Student Watch representatives provide a channel through which students could be invited to attend residents' association meetings (in Crossgate and elsewhere in the City)? Roger will ask Phil to do this;
  • A resident of Parkside spoke of contacts made there with student neighbours;
  • Could "safe routes home" be drawn up, which would encourage students not to follow riverside routes when not sober?
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were were agreed as a correct record.
5. Matters arising
a) 51 The Avenue: The Area Planning Committee had refused the application for conversion to HMO status by a considerable majority (the motion to approve had failed to find a seconder). Ann Evans was congratulated on the effectiveness of her address to the Committee. There was as yet no sign of the enforcement measures to which Planning Officers had referred at the committee meeting, but Cllr Nigel Martin would follow this up.
b) At the same Area Planning Committee, Neville's Cross Social Club had been refused planning permission for conversion to students accommodation on the Chairman's casting vote. The Certificate of Refusal did not match the grounds given at the meeting, and building work continues. Pam Glaister (the Council's Senior Enforcement Officer) declines to take action pending a potential appeal.
c) The County Hospital site: The University has now written to the Council, clarifying that they have no commitment to or participation in the proposed development, but has not withdrawn the statement that the site is in itself suitable for student accommodation.
English Heritage did not approve the proposed development, but from its comments appeared to have seen plans subsequent to those published on the Council's website (apparently being a storey lower at one end). Planning Officer Peter Herbert has emailed to say that these amended plans have not been formally submitted, and that the application for determination is therefore the one submitted in April. It is currently intended to bring this application to the July 29th meeting of the County Planning Committee, and the applicant has been told that the officers will not support it.
Roger will represent the CCP at the Committee meeting (Ann will deputise).
d) Simon Squires had received a reply to his comments on the North Road Regeneration scheme, saying that a revised design was expected to be put up for consultation in August. The meeting felt that this was not a timing likely to encourage public participation, and that the scheme seemed to be being rushed through.
The meeting agreed that the North Road was in need of regeneration, and discussed how this might best be achieved. On a show of hands, the meeting was overwhelmingly opposed to moving the Bus Station. Rather than a single major development, the meeting favoured the encouragement of small, individual shops. The need was for continuing maintenance, rather than capital expenditure.
It was agreed that the CCP should put together an alternative strategy, in preparation for the consultation: people should be invited to contribute, and Simon Priestley and Jean Rogers would draw this into a statement.
e) Proposed Fighting Fund: Alan Doig outlined his proposal, which arose from the campaign of opposition to the conversion of the Neville's Cross Social Club. He felt that on the basis of pledges already received it would be possible to build a substantial fund from member donations, which could be used to fund a) legal advice and other expert opinions and b) student research. This would be a joint venture of all the City residents' groups. It was agreed that various bodies in the City shared a need for factual and statistical information; there were also existing bodies under whose aegis such research could be funded (the NPF and the City of Durham Trust, for example). There was less enthusiasm for a fund to pay legal bills, which could be extremely large, and where there was difficulty in finding professionals who were as well briefed on the specifics as local campaigners. It was also suggested that the fund could be a virtual one, with pledged contributions being made only when needed. Roger and Alan would confer at the end of July about the possibilities for putting together an information base.
f) Report back from University / City liaison meeting: since the University is in the process of appointing a new Vice Chancellor, there may be a hiatus in these meetings. It was clear that many of the issues between University and local residents were not in fact police matters, and those who attended the meetings wondered how satisfied Ron Hogg was at this situation. However, he had expressed willingness to talk to residents' groups, and Roger was asked to invite him to attend one of our meetings, and to agree a date.
g) As anticipated, the Green Move Out scheme had been weakened by not starting until students were already leaving Durham; Ruth Chambers was asked to write to the organisers this effect, suggesting it be brought forward next year.
h) Repairs to / possible adoption of the top of The Peth: Nigel was happy to act as facilitator between local residents and the Council.
6. Conversion of Kingslodge Hotel to student accommodation
Nigel declared a technical interest in this application: he is an officer of the Rotary Club which meets at Finbarr's Restaurant.
The Trustees had submitted a letter of objection on behalf of the CCP, and this was endorsed by acclamation.
The application was seriously flawed, but members were nonetheless encouraged to send in individual objections.
7. Reports from local councillors
Councillor Richard Ormerod had sent in a written report: the Pride in Grape Lane project is progressing well, despite some reports of anti social behavior around the laurel tree; the Government is pressing ahead with a ban on the use of CCTV for parking enforcement except in highly exceptional circumstances, and the need to establish what exactly this means is hindering the introduction of camera monitoring of taxis making illegal turns into Crossgate.
Nigel reported that the Planning Committee that morning had approved the plan for student accommodation at Sheraton Park. The number of additional student beds being planned and approved is running well ahead of the University's current projections.
8. Date of the next meeting
Monday 4th August 2014.