Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the meeting, 5th May 2022

1. Attendance
Roger Cornwell (in the Chair): Joan Adams, Lesley Aers, Robert Banks, Ann Evans, Chris Hugill, Margaret Jefferson, Drew Lowrie, Brendan McKeown, Pat Mussett, Jean Rogers, Ann Stokes, Sarah Wilkinson,
Cllr Esther Ashby, Cllr Victoria Ashfield
Tracey Gallon (Unite Students) [briefly]
2. Apologies for absence
were received from: Gillian Banks, Morag Crichton, Simon Priestley, David Ramsden, Malcolm Reed, Simon Squires,
Cllr Liz Brown, Cllr Richard Ormerod,
Cllr Alan Doig, Cllr Carole Lattin.
3. Update from Unite Students
Tracey Gallon welcomed the CCP to Rushford Court. She is standing in for Louise Fowler, who is on maternity leave.
4. The minutes of the April meeting:
were approved as a correct record.
5. Change of Treasurer
Simon Squires has been Treasurer of the Crossgate Community Partnership for ten years. He has now tendered his resignation, and this was accepted, with the Partnership's thanks for all his work over the past decade.
The meeting unanimously approved the appointment of Sarah Wilkinson as Treasurer.
The proposed change of signatories on the bank account from Simon Squires, Roger Cornwell and Carole Reeves to Sarah Wilkinson, Roger Cornwell and Simon Priestley was agreed; the Trustees were authorised to take whatever actions were necessary to achieve this, and were instructed to report back to the next meeting.
6. Planning applications: DM/22/01148/FPA (Oaklea)
An application has been submitted to convert Oaklea, The Avenue, from a family home to a large HMO. This is not ruled out by the percentage of student accommodation within 100m (at 6 or 7%) but the property is on the route between a PBSA (Duresme Court) and the University.
Drew Lowrie, who lives two doors away, had seen the statutory notice attached to a lamppost, which was difficult to read; he had not received a letter. The application had taken the neighbours by surprise, but he was able to confirm that it is currently in use as a family home.
Roger commented that the list of neighbours consulted had not yet appeared on the DCC Planning Portal. The press notice should have appeared in that day's papers, starting the three week period for objections. The application would be discussed at the next day's meeting of the Parish Council Planning subcommittee.
Roger had drafted a personal letter of objection, as had Simon Priestley.
Ann Evans argued that regardless of the precise numbers, a nine-student household would increase the studentification of the area, which was counter to both County and Local Plans, and we should oppose it on these grounds.
Roger would collaborate with Chris Hugill, Simon, Ann, Drew and Fiona to draft a letter from the CCP; members were also encouraged to submit individual letters. Pat Mussett volunteered to ensure that neighbours immediately opposite to Oaklea were aware of the situation.
7. Support for green development at Sniperley
Cllr Victoria Ashfield outlined the Parish Council's actions on the large new development planned at Sniperley; they are urging that it should be built entirely on sustainable principles, and have identified seven points that they wish to see the County Council requiring from its developers (previously circulated to members). The plan was about to go before SCC's Planning Committee, although the Masterplan had not yet been approved, and without any indication that the development would follow principles of sustainability. We should not, at this point, be building even one unsustainable new home, let alone 1500; certainly there should be no gas supply to the estate.
The question was raised whether the CCP should be active outwith the Crossgate area (and indeed outwith the City of Durham Parish) but it was agreed that it was appropriate to be pressing for all new builds to be to a sustainable standard, and that this major development could set a precedent for high standards across the City.
Roger would draft a letter from the CCP based on the Parish's model.
8. Reports from Councillors
a) A written report had been received from Cllr Richard Ormerod:
  • The Parish Council will contribute £10,000 towards enabling Durham County Council to devise a Conservation Area Management Plan. Victoria clarified that this would give the Parish input to the choice of a full-time person to work on the Plan. and the parameters of their work.
  • Richard had received complaints about noise from the monthly bikers' gatherings at the Angel, but had not been able to observe it himself (possibly because he had been given the wrong fate). Members living locally were aware of these events, but did not regard them as a major nuisance.
  • Ann was dissatisfied with Richard's dismissal of her letter about seating at the top of the North Road: Victoria also recalled an agreement with officers to install a single seat, and would pursue this through the Parish Council Environment Committee. Cllr Esther Ashby added that the Police have an Architectural Officer, whose job is to design out anti-social behaviour; better results would result from designing in good behaviour.
b) Cllr Esther Ashby reported:
  • that Nobles have applied to license 12, North Road (formerly the Red Cross shop) as a gaming establishment. The Parish Council had objected because no risk assessment had been submitted, but this had now been supplied. The Business committee was trying to resist the loss of retail units in the City to the leisure / night time economy.
  • The Parish Council's Jubilee events programme was being widely circulated, She drew particular attention to the Tea Dance and the Picnic. She also explained the difficulties of organising a Jubilee Beacon.
  • The group attempting to set up a Round Table forum with student landlords was in the process of setting a date for its meeting.
  • The University's Sustainability Officer was organising a sustainability day: this would be for students only, since it promised to be very well subscribed.
c) Cllr Victoria Ashfield reported:
  • The owner of the property with the blank concrete wall at the corner of East Atherton Street had given permission to plant above the wall so that greenery cascades down it; they had also promised to co-operate with upkeep.
  • She had intended to replace the pansies in the planters with herbs, but the pansies were currently blooming so beautifully that she had held off.
  • She was receiving reports from Neighbourhood Wardens, and was confident that they do respond to complaints. Residents who are not sure they are getting through to the Wardens can contact her, if necessary.
  • Toria also reported on Parish Council work on the Riverbanks and on Air Quality.
9. Date of next meeting
The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 7th June 2022, at Rushford Court.