Policy D3

Policy D3: Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

D3.1: In order to promote the creation of sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities and maintain an appropriate housing mix, any development proposal for new, extensions to, or conversions to, Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), will be required to demonstrate:

  1. that there is a need for additional student accommodation; and
  2. it would not result in a significant negative impact on retail, employment, leisure, tourism or housing use, or would support the Council’s regeneration objectives; and
  3. consultation with the relevant education provider.

D3.2: Development proposals will not be permitted unless:

  1. not more than 10% of the total number of properties within 100 metres of the application site are already in use as HMOs or student accommodation exempt from council tax charges or the resulting student population is not more than 20% of the total population in that area; and
  2. the development is on or adjacent to an existing university or college academic site, or hospital and research site; and
  3. the design and layout of the student accommodation and siting of individual uses within the overall development are appropriate to its location in relation to adjacent neighbouring uses; and
  4. the design meets the appropriate criteria for student living accommodation as set out in the Building Regulations; and
  5. the internal design, layout and standard of accommodation and facilities is of appropriate standard; and
  6. the impacts from occupants of the development will not have an unacceptable impact upon the amenity of surrounding residents in itself or when considered alongside existing and approved student housing provision. Prior to occupation a management plan or draft outline management plan appropriate to the scale of the development shall be provided and approved by Durham County Council; and
  7. the quantity of cycle and car parking provided is in line with the Council’s Parking and Accessibility Guidelines and Policies T3 and T4 of this Plan; and
  8. the applicant has shown that the security of the building and its occupants has been considered along with that of other local residents and legitimate users.

D3.3: Where appropriate, development proposals in accordance with the above requirements should contribute to the re-use of listed buildings, heritage assets and other buildings with a particular heritage value.

Justification for Policies D2 and D3

4.153 Student accommodation in Durham City is one of the most frequently mentioned issues in our consultations (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2015), and the subject of much debate over many years. Working in partnership with the University and residents’ groups, the County Council has adopted an Interim Policy (Durham County Council, 2016h) to deal with applications to develop HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and PBSAs (purpose built student accommodation) and this is incorporated into the County Council’s ‘Issues and Options’ document of the emerging County Development Plan (Durham County Council, 2016c, p.42, para 4.59). This is most welcome as an interim measure. Our Neighbourhood Plan provides the opportunity to make minor but vital improvements, and these are incorporated into Policies D2 and D3. The over-riding consideration within these policies on whether additional HMOs or PBSAs are acceptable is the principle laid down in the NPPF (para. 50) which enjoins local planning authorities to ” create sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities”. The context section above explains how ‘studentification’ can be and has been damaging to community harmony and balance. The interim policy carries forward saved policies H9, H13 and H16 from the Durham City Local Plan (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a).

4.154 Implementation of the interim policy depends for HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) upon the introduction of an Article 4 Direction to remove certain householder development rights within a prescribed part of the City. Such a Direction was approved for a large part of the centre of the City and came into force on 17th September 2016. A further Direction for much of Framwellgate and Newton Hall came into force on 17th May 2017. In order to be able to resist the overspilling of HMO developments into the rest of Our Neighbourhood, we propose a third Direction to cover the remaining part of this area. This is an action which will be for the County Council to take forward. Similarly, an Article 7 Direction to control letting boards across Our Neighbourhood, which we also propose, is the responsibility of the County Council who carried out a public consultation in early 2017 and is now proceeding through the statutory procedures for adoption, hopefully in 2018.

Next section: Policy D4: Housing for Older People and People with Disabilities

12 Responses to Policy D3

  1. Esther Ashby says:

    Policy d2.3 should include all new PBSA’s should be designed wit flexibility to allow other housing needs to be met to meet future changes in demand eg housing the elderly who wish to downsize or housing for single workers.

  2. Esther Ashby says:

    Given the under use of existing PBSA’a and those in the pipeline, Policy D3.2 should include a requirement for any new student developments to be designed to allow future modification for accommodating people with housing needs other than students.
    The two blocks on Claypath and a third one just off it occupy sites which would be prime locations for residents wishing to down size or with needs for more sheltered housing than they currently occupy.

  3. Timothy Clark says:

    (section 4.154 ) I also support Article 4 Declarations being extended as proposed.

  4. Peter Reynolds says:

    I am particularly supportive of the proposal to extend Article 4 to the remainder of Our Neighbourhood, as are David Sanders, Mike Costello and John Pacey.

  5. Jean Rogers says:

    I broadly support this policy.

    The requirement that proposed new PBSAs demonstrate a need for additional accommodation must, if taken seriously, result in a moratorium until existing PBSAs and those currently in construction are filled.

    I would like to see condition 3: "consultation with the relevant education provider." made stronger. Durham still claims to be a collegiate university; the norm for student accommodation should therefore surely be the college. Certainly I see no disadvantage to all PBSA accommodation taking the form of university colleges. At the very least the policy should be that PBSAs be run in association with the relevant education provider. This would make it much more likely that they have proper management schemes in place, and means to enforce them.

  6. Sidegate Residents' Association says:

    Our comments on policy D2 apply also to D3.

  7. Mike Costello says:

    Please see my comment re D2 regarding the calculation of percentage limits.
    Agree with the need for enforced management plans.
    There should be mandatory licensing of all HMOs not just those with 5 or more occupants and three or more storeys.
    Extension of Article 4 and imposition of Article 7 Regulation essential to the rolling back of studentification.
    Council tax exemptions should be removed. We lose £4 million pa in spite of these properties putting a huge extra demand on public service providers.
    Finally all HMOs should have water meters.

  8. Geoffrey Bromiley says:

    I strongly support the proposals in D3.1 and D3.2. I also favour D3.3, but am uncertain how it could consistently be put into practice. D3.1 mentions the requirement to demonstrate ‘consultation with the relevant education provider’. This is important, for one suspects the University has chosen to pursue so far a largely hands-off, laissez-faire policy, in so far as it has had a policy at all.

  9. Peter Smith says:

    It is very clear from the research that I have undertaken that the view is that in Durham too many PBSA beds are being built and very definitely too many at the same time. Studios will not deliver the returns expected as the void rate will be high and some degree of redesign may be needed in future. Lack of council control seems to be the problem with the overwhelming opinion that the policies on HMO and PBSA came far too late. Some PBSA schemes will prosper either through exceptional location (or with good transport links), great design, keen pricing or excellent management, however these are unlikely to be in all studio schemes as a mix is needed. Developments such as Chapel Heights or the proposed site at the Berendsen Laundry seem, based on the information above, if not doomed to failure then perhaps doomed to very challenging times ahead as they have between them over 500 studios and the laundry site is described as being, on the wrong side of the road in the wrong area. There is no evidence that developers have canvassed local students for opinions or had much interaction with Durham University. They appear to be relying on national trends and hoping that ‘one size fits all’.
    The likely scenario is that the PBSA will compete amongst each other for the students who can afford the very high prices, which will include some who would have formerly chosen university or HMO type housing, however the effect on HMO properties would be greater if the pricing structure was more competitive however by the time price reductions come into place these blocks will not be as attractive as they will be four to five years old. If the PBSA reduce prices then the return to investors and the ability to refresh the properties regularly will in turn reduce.
    The great unknown factor remains the effect of greater licensing of HMO and the influx of 2500 students from Stockton. Equally any increase in students yet to be announced may create a situation where extra students may be introduced to Durham but without any greater ability to pay the requirements of the rents demanded by the PBSA which may create more voids or if the university recruits only those more able to pay may create a university whose members create an establishment more elite than it already is. However if academic qualification is the bar to entry there will be more pressure on the HMO market with the university able to demand terms from PBSA that will leave investors in the current schemes short-changed. Greater licencing is needed but with the extra undergraduates provided by the Stockton realignment will not immediately provide the boost to the HMO landlords that they are expecting unless they are prepared to invest.

    Durham University is unlikely to close and therefore city occupancy patterns are unlikely to change unless tourism fills the voids. Whilst residents who had previously railed against HMO and now feel that PBSA are an equal problem, there is no solution, evidence shows that even if the HMO properties were emptied of students it is unlikely that families will return. We have seen that residents fighting against schemes for residential projects (Mayorswell Close) and offices (Sheraton Park) now have very large PBSA following successful battles against the previous uses, these residents must now be wondering if the previous proposals would have been that bad after all.

    HMO properties are unlikely to disappear but will face large challenges over the next few years. Retailers in Durham will continue to face the twin challenges of the internet revolution and the seasonality of business caused by students. The biggest losers will be local residents who feel disenfranchised and ignored. They will now face the likelihood of a two tier housing market which will reduce the value of their homes but perhaps make non-HMO properties more affordable to all.

  10. John Pacey says:

    POLICY D 3
    Whilst I support this Policy I wish to point out and give emphasis to the need for each PBSA to have a Management Plan approved by DCC in place prior to occupation.
    A draft outline Management Plan would not be adequate, and to be meaningful DCC would need to be satisfied that the Management Plan,once approved, would be adhered to subsequent to occupation.
    I strongly support the proposal to extend Article 4 Direction to the remainder of Our Neighbourhood, given the extent and speed of planned University development within the City, and the further damage to our environment which will follow.

  11. David Sanders says:

    Strongly support the third Article 4 Declaration, extending into other areas which are beginning to be targeted by landlords who are affected by the existing orders, and attracted by new colleges at Mount Oswald.