The City of Durham Parish Council is here to represent all residents of our community – whether student residents or year-round permanent residents – we are here to support all of our neighbours.
The Parish Council has been shocked to see the scenes of students queuing outside estate agents in the City in the desperate hopes of securing accommodation for next academic year. The scenes have hit national headlines and are a cause of great concern to us all.
The City of Durham Parish Council will be writing to Durham University, Durham Students Union, Durham County Council and the local Member of Parliament to seek an urgent meeting to try and resolve these issues.
No individual or organisation should rush to the conclusion that this housing crisis is caused as a result of a lack of private-rented HMOs in the City. Indeed, the statistics below show otherwise and in fact we have seen outlying areas of the City also experience an increase in private student accommodation. A statement last month from the University that there had actually been a reduction in private-rented accommodation in the City has no basis in fact and has yet to be retracted.
Be in no doubt that this issue is caused primarily as a result of landlords releasing their properties into the market almost immediately and the University’s obsession with an unsustainable expansion policy, which is driving permanent long-term residents out of the City. This expansion policy is in no way accommodation-led and the University’s aims of having 50% of students ‘living-in’ University accommodation is nowhere near to being achieved.
The Parish Council is calling on the University to move forward urgently with the six PBSAs it promised the residents of Durham at the Examination in Public into the County Durham Plan in 2020 and to make these affordable. It is deeply concerning to see the proposed accommodation places in these PBSAs slowly falling by the wayside; with the numbers at James Barber House already being reduced and a planning application for an independently funded PBSA at Mount Oswald to house 850 students, which was submitted two years ago, has not progressed since June 2021.
The crippling and exploitative costs of College accommodation is also pushing students into the Durham housing stock and it is time for the University to take action on this and put people ahead of profit.
The stress and mental strain this must all be causing our student residents is appalling.
Stats on private-rented student lets in DH1 as of April 2022: