Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting Monday 3rd October 2016

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Lesley Aers, Gillian Banks, R. W. Banks, Steven Bell, Janet Charlton, Mike Costello, Alan Doig, Ann Evans, John Knowles, Sheila Knowles, Jackie Levitas, Brendan McKeown, Barbara Ravelhofer, Malcolm Reed, Carole Reeves, Jean Rogers, Brenda Rutherford, Colin Rutherford, Malcolm Scott, Deacon Annette Sharp, Ann Stokes, Kevin Turrington, Bob Ward, Ros Ward, David Wilkinson, Clare Wright
Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr Nigel Martin
PCSO Steven Bell, PCSO Rebecca Carey, Sgt Andy Gibson
Jeanette Armin, Durham County Council
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Liz Brown, Odile Fong, Richard Fong, David Ramsden, Simon Squires, Sarah Wilkinson
Cllr Richard Ormerod
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) PCSO Steve Bell reported: there had been four bicycle thefts on this side of the city; it was likely that the pink bike scheme would be reintroduced to raise awareness of security. There had been three cases of burglary / attempted burglary / possible burglary.
The Railway Station had reported three males playing chicken on the railway lines at Durham Station. Police arrived and obtained the name of the main person responsible, who was a student, and he had been given a penalty Notice for Disorder, for Trespass on a Railway which is a £60 fine. This is a recordable offence which will be recorded as a criminal record.
b) PCSO Rebecca Carey reported: she had already issued seven community protection warning notices (two in The Avenue, one in Waddington Street, one in Laburnum, one in Hawthorne Terrace and the other two were at the other side of town), one ticket for urinating, ten alcohol seizures, and the above ticket for trespassing on a railway. This should be seen in the context of substantial numbers of ASB (antisocial behaviour) actions among non-students.
This included the continuing campaign on rough sleepers who were sleeping on the streets rather than return to their accommodation.
c) Priorities: The meeting expressed appreciation of the substantial efforts police were making among students at the beginning of term, and agreed that this should remain our sole priority for the coming month.
4. Bus Station Proposals
Jeanette Armin, principal project manager on the North Road Project Team, introduced the Council's proposals. The remodelling of the bus station was a legacy project, inherited from Durham City Vision / 20-20 Vision. A public consultation held in 2011 had agreed that it was desirable to:
  • revitalise retail in the North Road,
  • link the transport hubs of bus and train stations, and
  • improve pedestrian flow in the North Road (by reducing traffic, in particular the number of buses).
A 2014 exhibition had had 350 visitors, who were broadly in favour of the scheme, and whose objections were primarily to the design.
The object of the exercise was to move the bus station off land which constituted a plot of a size which would attract retail developers. The bus station could be transferred onto a roundabout which was not needed for traffic purposes, especially now that the junction could be incorporated into the Scoot system. The major bus companies had now agreed to the move.
NEDRES design review service had given some very helpful advice, and the Council now had much more detailed plans which were "more Durham", employing a harmonious palette of materials which would tie in with the North Road. Pictures were unfortunately not available for examination, as they were in the process of being printed. (They are now available on the Council's website).
The council is working with BID in an attempt to improve the streetscape, and with Mary Gallagher of the Equalities Team to maximise disability access. Potential retailers on the 'new' site cannot be revealed at this stage.
In answer to questions: the funding has been provided by ONE North East, and any profit on the scheme would return to the successor body, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA); outlay on the bus station would be major expenditure for DCC, in the region of £9.5 million; the intention was to regenerate retail in the North Road by creating a dumbbell shape, with a mass of retail at either end of the road, the new development acting as a counterweight to the Gates. There were also comments on pedestrian and disabled access.
5. Minutes
the minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a correct record.
6. Planning application for 24 The Avenue
The applicant has amended the application to ask for use class C3 (domestic residential) to be granted in addition to use class C4 (HMO). Ann Evans asked for legal clarification: this is not, on the face of it, valid status in planning law. Jean Rogers expressed scepticism about the suitability of the proposed houses for family use: the change in status was not accompanied by any change in design. It was agreed that the CCP maintains its objection to the application, and Roger was asked to write to the planning department to say so.
7. County Hospital: purported discharge of conditions
Signet planning have submitted a planning application to allow work to proceed, on the grounds that they have now met all the conditions which were required before this was permitted. The meeting was very sceptical of this claim. As of earlier that evening, the only comments attached to this case on the Council's website were those from Emma Tindall of the Council's Environment, Health & Consumer Protection department, stating that in her view two conditions within her remit were not met by the applicants proposals. It was agreed that Barbara Ravelhofer, acting on our behalf, should seek a meeting with case officer Henry Jones, to include if possible Liz Brown, Jackie Levitas, Val Standen or other representative of the Friends of Flass Vale and local Councillors, to scrutinise documentation and discover the Planning Departments intentions.
8. Voluntary Code of Practice for Letting Boards
Despite repeated assurances that the Council was now seriously considering statutory regulation of letting boards, a revised version of the Voluntary Code has now been circulated to landlords and agents. Far from amending the period in which advertising is permitted until later in the academic year, as both residents and student welfare bodies have been urging, it now permits advertising from October 1st. In addition, the enforcement officers seem now to be interpreting the Code as having no bearing on advertising outwith the permitted period. The meeting confirmed that neither residents nor local Councillors had been either consulted or even informed prior to these changes, and Jean was asked to write to Ian Thompson, Corporate Director of Regeneration and Economic Development, expressing our disappointment.
9. Fruitful Durham
Ann Evans reported on a visit to Fruitful Durham, to press apples: she described the process and exhibited a bottle of the resultant juice. Fruitful Durham welcome visitors bringing apples and helping to press, and contact details are available from Ann (or find them on Facebook).
10. Reports from Local Councillors
Cllr Nigel Martin reported on progress towards transfer of Ustimov College to its new home at Sheraton Park: this was not universally welcomed by the college, especially as some functions, like security, would now be outsourced. The Sheraton Park and the Nevilles Cross Residents Associations, along with Roger Cornwell representing the Neighbourhood Planning Forum, would be meeting the University about this the following day.
The formal reopening of Wharton Park would take place on Friday: this was an invitation only event attended by a member of the royal family.
11. Dates of future meetings
The proposed schedule of meetings for 2017 was agreed, with the first meeting on Tuesday 10th January (as the 3rd is the day after the New Year holiday); Monday 6 February; Tuesday 7 March; Monday 3 April; Tuesday 2 May; Monday 5 June; Tuesday 4 July; Monday 7 August; Tuesday 5 September; Monday 2 October; Tuesday 7 November; Monday 4 December.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 1st November 2016.