Gown town: Durham locals fear losing Crossgate in their city to ‘studentification’

 

Crossgate in Durham is used to invasions. In 1346 the Scots army poured across the border hoping to catch the English napping as they prepared to battle the old foe France, while in industrial times a towering viaduct was driven through the area, bringing with it the thundering trains of the east coast mainline.

The most recent incursion has been scholastic in nature, but equally unsettling for those who still live in this historic city centre suburb.

It is estimated there are just 400 non-student households left in a community that was until recently home to 2,000 permanent residents. In some streets all but a handful of what were once desirable family homes are now let out in term time, most of them occupied by five or six students, standing empty for nearly half the year.

Those who are refusing to move out of the area, just a short stroll from the World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral and Castle, include the novelist Pat Barker. But as the students have moved in, local shops have closed and families have shifted out.

The area has become, it is claimed, noisy and dirty and locked in a vicious cycle of “studentification”.

Now locals fear that what remains of their identity is about to be lost with the creation of a giant development on the site of the old Durham County Hospital. Developers are hoping to create 73 student studios in the refurbished Victorian psychiatric wards, while building an additional 367-bedroom accommodation block on the same site. It is an addition to a 200-bedroom student accommodation block under construction on adjacent land.

The university has opposed the development, complaining that the residences lack facilities. But it is accused of continuing to increase student numbers in this small, compact city with little or no regard for the lives of those who live there permanently.

Mike Costello, a retired IT specialist, who has lived in Crossgate since the 1980s, is now in one of only six non-student households in his street. “There are now two separate communities with totally different lifestyles. It feels overwhelming,” he said. Mike Costello says locals feel ‘overwhelmed’ Mike Costello says locals feel ‘overwhelmed’

A trustee of the Crossgate Community Partnership, which wants mixed use for the old hospital, he said relations between the university and the community were “very poor”. “It’s really gone over the edge in the past three or four years,” he said. “This has always been seen as a student ghetto, but with expansion it has become much worse.” 

Durham, a city of about 47,000, is also home to a university with a full-time student body of 15,000. The number of undergraduates has increased from 7,385 in 1999 to more than 12,000 this year, spread across the two sites in Durham and Queen’s Campus, Stockton, though most students prefer to live in the city.

Elizabeth David, 40, graduated with a degree in education from Durham 20 years ago and has chosen to stay in the city to raise her two children. “It is about creating a balanced community and not allowing the area to become a student ghetto,” she said.

“For families it should be a great place to live because there is so much going for it. But so many streets have become student-only and there is always the fear that the house next door to you will become a student house.”

Durham’s pro vice-chancellor, professor Graham Towl, said: “Although the university did not support the planning application associated with the development plans at the former County Hospital site, it is generally supportive of the development of high-quality purpose-built student accommodation in Durham city centre; provided it has sufficient social and learning space and is to be managed in such a way as to minimise disruption to other residents.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Teachers required for Cambridge Primary positions Jan 2015

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in Cambridge...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain