PLANNERS will be recommended to give the go-ahead to a multi-million pound scheme to build on a popular golf course.
Despite opposition from the city’s MP, local residents and environmentalists, Durham County Council’s planning committee has been advised by officer Peter Herbert to approve the scheme at Mount Oswald Golf Club on the southern outskirts of the city when it meets on February 5.
The £200m plans for the site include 16 self-design homes, accommodation for up to 1,000 Durham University students, up to 56 executive homes, up to 250 family homes, converting the Grade II-listed Mount Oswald Manor into apartments and building more on its car park, as well as creating a community facility.
An earlier bid by Banks, based in nearby Meadowfield, Durham, to build a mix of offices and homes at Mount Oswald was withdrawn after concerted public opposition.
Criticism of the new scheme has come from Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods, local county councillor Nigel Martin, and the City of Durham Trust and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.
Local residents have also formed a group called Save Mount Oswald Golf Club which asked supporters to sign an e-petition against the proposals on the grounds that such a large development would cause traffic “chaos”, lead to a loss of green space, have a “devastating” effect on wildlife, and increase pressure on local services.
The group also questioned the need for more executive housing.
But Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, said: “We’re pleased that Durham County Council’s officers have recognised the many strengths of our Mount Oswald planning application in recommending it for approval, and hope the members of the council’s planning committee will be minded to agree with them next week.
“Our vision for Mount Oswald is to create an outstanding, high quality, low density, sustainable new neighbourhood of families and students with a green infrastructure that provides new green links and wildlife habitats and is well connected to public transport.
“It has been designed to contribute to the realisation of Durham County Council’s vision of Durham City acting as a driver of economic growth in the county, and would directly and indirectly support hundreds of local jobs at a time when such employment opportunities are very badly needed.
“It would also have an enduring positive impact on the city’s retail and housing sectors, and on Durham University’s drive towards maintaining its position as one of the world’s pre-eminent educational institutions.
“We have always believed that the wide range of economic and social benefits that the Mount Oswald scheme will bring to the city add up to make a very compelling case for planning approval, and as a long-established Durham-based family business, we hope we will soon get the opportunity to take this project forward.”