A COMMUNITY group has asked a developer to rethink plans to demolish a block of flats over concerns that residents will have to face months of disruption.

Student accommodation developer Empiric wants to knock down its block of student flats at St Margaret’s, off Crossgate, Durham and rebuild it.

The building in St Margaret’s Garth, to the rear of Allergate, is next to St Margaret’s care home and has been there for more than 20 years.

A public consultation event was held last week and the Crossgate Community Partnership discussed the proposal at a meeting this week.

Chairman Roger Cornwell said: “The people who live on Allergate still remember what it was like then they built the student flats and all the lorries rumbling along.

“They are proposing to demolish something which is 20m from a nursing home. If it’s approved it will be 15 months of heavy lorries going down Allergate, negotiating a sharp bend and getting up Crossgate.”

Empiric, which bought the development in 2015, says the building has become dated.

It wants to knock it down and rebuild it over four storeys and add a basement and has plans to increase the number of rooms from 109 to between 150 and 170.

A planning application is due to be submitted later this month and if it is approved, the company hopes to start construction next summer and open it in 2019.

Members of the CCP are calling on Empiric to look at renovating the site instead.

Mr Cornwell said: “What they’re looking at knocking down is only about 23 years old so it’s still in its first flush of youth. They don’t seem to have seriously considered how they would be able to renovate the building instead. I think that’s a solution people would be happy with.

He added: “If it goes ahead, it must be done so it’s not going to disturb local residents to a great degree and that seems to be an impossible ask.”

Empiric says it will try to minimise disruption.

A spokesperson said: “As a business, we are constantly reinvesting in our existing properties to ensure that they provide some of the highest quality of student accommodation available in the market, and St Margaret’s, built in 1994, currently falls short of that standard.

“It is neither practical nor economic to seek to refurbish the existing accommodation, which fails to maximise the potential of this excellently located site.”

Paul Jefferson, who lives in Allergate, which is to the rear of St Margaret’s, said: “I know the situation is that it’s very basic student accommodation and it does need upgraded but it’s only about 20 years ago. To pull that down and to think about building a basement in that area is ridiculous.

“The disruption it will cause is going to be tremendous in Allergate and Crossgate.”

The public consultation finishes on Friday, August 18. To respond send comments to consultation@scotthobbsplanning.com.