Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting 5th March 2019

1. Attendance
Present: Cllr Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Robert Banks, Ann Evans, Jackie Levitas, Brendan McKeown, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Liz Brown,
Louise Fowler, Unite Students
Cllr Roger Cornwell welcomed Louise Fowler from Unite Students, who manage Rushford Court (and also student accommodation at Houghall and Elvet Studios, outwith the Crossgate area).
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Lesley Aers, Margaret Jefferson, David Ramsden, Simon Squires,
Cllr John Ashby, Cllr Alan Doig, Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr Carole Reeves.
3. Minutes
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed as a correct record.
4. PACT meetings
a) Ann Evans planned to attend the City PACT meeting the following day
b) Cllr Liz Brown had attended the Neville's Cross PACT meeting in February. Police had reported that they believed a robbery in Wedthouse Avenue had been targeted by thieves who knew there would be money in the house. Neville's Cross is a remarkably crime-free area, but police urged residents to take care to lock doors etc. Liz intended to be at the next meeting, scheduled for March 21st.
c) Roger reminded the meeting that he anticipated the Police will be present at our April meeting, since this falls on a Thursday.
5. Bus Station
As reported at the previous meeting, the County Council is now consulting on a more modest refurbishment of Durham Bus Station, dropping those elements of the previous scheme which had aroused so much opposition. Members had now had an opportunity to view the consultation on DCC's website, and the following points were made in discussion:
  • Simon Squires, in tendering his apologies for the meeting, had said that the points he would wish to contribute were covered in his letter published in the Durham Advertiser, and circulated to the Crossgate Mailing List on February 1st.
  • There was a desire for something that would look good as a keynote building for the North Road (alongside the fine nineteenth century buildings already there).
  • Louise Fowler praised Morpeth Bus Station, designed with an emphasis on lightness and air.
  • Could the opportunity be taken to pedestrianise the North Road, by taking buses out at the top of the road?
  • There was potential for increased room to manoeuvre if the plan to demolish Hopper / Metcalfe House was reinstated: failing that, is it possible to improve and / or make use of the building? In particular, the overhang creates a dark passageway which is uninviting.
  • There is a need for good information at the Bus Station, both for visitors to Durham arriving there, and for travellers looking for a bus. Both a physical information centre and high-tech notices are required.
  • If possible, incorporate some design features referring to the old Bus Station (now in Beamiah Museum)
The closing date for submissions is listed as March 21st, but Dave Wafer, DCC Traffic Manager, will address the Parish Council meeting on March 28th, and will presumably be open to their input.
Jean Rogers agreed to edit her notes of the discussion and Simon's letter to the paper into a single document; Roger would circulate the mailing list with an invitation to send in additional comments.
6. Planning Application DM/18/02369/FPA New County HQ
The County Planning Committee had decided, by 8 votes for to 6 against, that it was "minded to approve" the application. The Secretary of State now has the option of calling in the decision. Roger would be attending Cabinet on behalf of the Parish Council, and would ask them to reconsider this plan because of the flood risk, as detailed in the letter from the Environment Agency.
7. Licensing issues
a) Former Walkabout / Robins Cinema: Brendan McKeown spoke of the difficulties of opposing licensing applications in areas with a high population. All the residents immediately neighbouring this property are students, and in conversation they all complain of noise from night clubs, which they think currently comes from Loft: they tell stories of returning to their parental homes to revise, of wearing earphones to sleep, but they regard this as the price of living out in Durham. They do not object to licenses, and applicants are able to tell the Licensing Committee that they have received no complaints about noise. Lee Smurthwaite's proposal for this property would double the present numbers. The application would be considered by the next meeting of the Parish Council Licensing Committee, and Brendan was invited to attend and speak to the committee about it.
Discussion followed on how students could be persuaded to engage with the community to improve problems like noise, rather than regarding them as something to be tolerated for the year of their residence. Louise described an app made available to Unite student residents, enabling instant feedback: is there any prospect of working with the Students' Union to encourage feedback in this way?
b) County Council review of Licensing Policy as outlined on Council website. Jean summarised Roberta Blackman-Woods MP's encouragement to residents to participate in this. She had hoped that promised documentation would have been sent out by Roberta's office ahead of the present meeting. However, some initial points emerged from the general discussion:
  • Several speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the arrangements for public input on licensing applications: these can only be viewed at Annand House in Meadowfield (which is inconvenient for City residents, and more so for those living elsewhere in the County) and by appointment, which is not welcoming. Roger saw no technical reason why an an online portal, similar to that used by the Planning Department, could not be introduced.
  • Cllr Esther Ashby criticised the Council's adherence to a single policy for the whole of the County: they refused to recognise that different circumstances in the City might require different policies.
It was agreed that this item should be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
8. Reports from County Councillors
Liz reported the the University is now consulting on its plans for a new Business School on and adjacent to the cite of the old City Baths. There would be a consultation event the following day.
The Council had been removing dedicated dog waste bins, as dog owners were now asked to use general rubbish bins. she was stickering the bins saying "Dog poo welcome here" to inform them of this.
9. Reports from City Councillors
A written report was circulated. Roger read through it rapidly, but it should also be available online.
10. Date of next meeting
Our next meeting will be on Thursday 4th April.