Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting, 7th October 2021

1. Attendance
Present: Roger Cornwell (in the Chair), Lesley Aers, John Ashby, Gillian Banks, Robert Banks, Goshka Bialek, Cathie Draycott, Theresa Ellis, Ann Evans, Margaret Jefferson, Sheila Knowles, Drew Lowrie, Brendan McKeown, Simon Priestley, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes,
Cllr Liz Brown
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Victoria Ashfield
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Mike Costello, David Ramsden, Malcolm Reed, Simon Squires, Sarah Wilkinson
Subsequently also received from Dot Patterson and Sally Patterson,
Louise Fowler (Unite Students)
Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr Elizabeth Scott
Cllr Alan Doig, Cllr Rupert Friederichsen, Cllr Grenville Holland, Cllr Carole Lattin, Cllr Susan Walker
3. Student issues
There were several complaints about student parking: a large number of students seem to have brought cars to Durham this year. John Ashby will take the matter up with DURF (Durham University / Residents' Forum). Cllr Esther Ashby reported that the Parish Council was seeking a meeting with student landlords, and could raise the issue of whether students were being enabled to obtain more parking permits than they were entitled to; Cllr Liz Brown could also ask for a County Council officer to carry out spot checks on this.
4. Battle of Neville's Cross 675th Anniversary
The Parish Council had partnered with local expert David Butler, who had agreed to lead a commemorative walk on Monday 18th October - the day after the 675th anniversary of the battle. Numbers were very limited, but some places were still available. Later the same day, there would be a commemorative church service at St. John's Church. Meanwhile, work was in progress to renovate the monument, and the signage was being replaced.
5. Hallow Green project
Cllr Esther Ashby introduced this project of the Parish Council Environment Committee: its long term aim is to create a welcoming area which is used comfortably by all residents and which encourages a feeling of shared ownership of public spaces, countering the current view of the 'Viaduct Area' as a party venue. The name 'Hallow Green' os intended to combine a welcoming greeting ('hallo') with this sense of peace and security. The project will begin small, with the introduction of planters in some of the streets which are currently just bricks and tarmac.
However, during a preliminary walkabout, Esther had been made aware of three green spaces in the Laburnum Avenue / May Street area: Peskies Park (which is listed among the Parish 'Green Spaces' in the Neighbourhood Plan), the abandoned allotments at the top of May Street, a third overgrown space between the top of Lawson Terrace and Laburnum Avenue. She is seeking County Council / AAP support for reinstatement of these areas.
A project like this would have to be based on consultation with the local community, their active support in shaping any scheme and making a successful bid for funds. The meeting was generally positive about what was being proposed, and in particular there was a plea for parks which would be open to dog walkers.
6. The return of students
a) Leaflet: Living out, in Durham Simon Priestley reported that distribution was 90% done, and would be completed by next week.
Brendan McKeown reminded the meeting that students are also among the residents who suffer from noise, but that they do not feel they have any route of redress. Goshka Bialek thought that campaigning on noise was having an effect, in that the present year's students were quieter, and more responsive.
Cllr Victoria Ashfield spoke about a Parish Council initiative to help students use waste bins correctly: stickers were being prepared with instructions about what could be placed in which bin. She explained that when rubbish was mixed with recycling, this would still be collected, but this contamination meant that it could not then be recycled. However, it dd not go to landfill, but to the 'Energy from Waste' scheme. Margaret Jefferson commented that the outsize bins provided in student areas were not an acceptable solution.
b) Shhh campaign: John Ashby had brought samples of the window poster produced by SNCF (St Nicholas Community Forum) bearing the message "Please respect everyone's right to a good night's sleep - Thank you." He urged people to report all night-time disturbances by phoning 101 as all calls are noted.
c) The University Communications update was noted.
d) DURF minutes: John (DURF Secretary) has been pressing the University to define its procedure for complaints, so that residents can demonstrate that it is not working. Complaints should also be e-mailed to the County Council, so that they have a record.
7. Planning Applications yet to be determined
a) DM/18/02983/FPA (two-storey extension) and DM/21/02697/FPA (conservatory and terrace), both for Farnley Tower We have previously objected to the extension, and should update this. Drew Lowrie expressed pleasure at the robustness of the response from neighbours, especially in view of the very restricted consultation list. Roger would draft an updated objection, and circulate it to interested parties.
b) DM/21/02447/FPA Extension and extra bedroom on HMO at 50 Hawthorn Terrace: noted. The Council seem to be taking a long time to determine this application.
c) DM/21/01752/FPA Change of use from Dental Surgery to Hot Food Takeaway, 37 North Road: Roger would be speaking against this at the Planning Committee on Tuesday 12th October.
d) DM/21/01670/FPA: 12-bedroom facility for student accommodation 63 Crossgate (Durham City WMC): Council Officers are treating this as a set of HMOs, and are opposing the application on the grounds of student density.
e) Ref. No: DM/21/01123/FPA and DM/21/01124/LB Repair and refurbishment of Durham Miners' Hall at Redhills The meeting welcomed this application, and Simon will write on our behalf to say so.
f) DM/20/02394/FPA Change of use from two bed dwelling (C3) to five bedroomed HMO (C4) 19 Mistletoe Street and g) DM/19/02504/FPA Demotion of Tower Cottage and construction of two new houses have both gone very quiet.
8. Planning applications already decided
a) DM/18/00291/FPA 24 The Avenue: it had been hoped that since three years had now elapsed since planning permission was granted, and work had not yet started, the permission might have expired. However, Cllr Liz Brown had learned that there had been an interval before the Section 106 form had been entered, and this had re-started the clock. She had also queried the access plan, which allows builders access to the site exclusively from the Avenue, but had received no reply.
b) DM/20/01124/FPA Retention of use of land for 2 car parking spaces in Ainsley Street: the appeal had been allowed, but objectors were hoping to progress the case through the Rights of Way team.
c) DM/21/01918/FPA Change of use to either C3 family home or HMO had been refused, but an appeal was pending
9. Views obstructed by vegetation
Jean Rogers summarised the discussion of this topic which had taken place on the group mailing list: at a number of points in the City, vegetation has grown up to obscure the view, including some vistas which were obviously designed to give a view of the cathedral, so that the loss of amenity is substantial. Specific cases were:
  • the seat just below the station (memorial to Robert Murrell) which now offered no view of the cathedral at all.
  • the classic view of the railway viaduct and the city beyond it from the Battery in Wharton Park
  • and, also in Wharton Park, the view from the sculpture (The Way) which was positioned to frame the view of the cathedral.
  • the interpretation board at the top of the hill between the DLI and Framwelgate Peth which is cut off from what it seeks to interpret because you can no longer see the view for the trees.
She would send this list of locations to Victoria for the attention of the Parish Council Environment Committee.
10. Reports from County Councillors
a) Cllr Richard Ormerod's written report was noted.
b) Liz reported that the HSE were investigating the fire at Milburngate.
The interruption of work on the Bus Station had been caused by the need to stabilise the wall of the adjacent listed building.
Resurfacing work on the Avenue had been a shambles, ill-planned and ill-timed, but Liz was pressing for it to be completed as soon as possible.
A bid had been received for the building on the Sands, but commercial confidentiality meant that this could not be revealed at present.
There was a project for a footpath from Back Western Hill through Ainsley Street and the Flass Well.
11. Report from Parish Councillors
a) Esther had been delighted to read a report in the Advertiser by their "democracy correspondent", of whose existence she had not been aware.
b) Victoria spoke to her written report. Four blue plaques had now been agreed, but obtaining permissions was proving more difficult than had been anticipated.
12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting would be on a date in the first week in November, subject to the availability of a meeting room.