Those of you who eat out regularly in Durham may have noticed that two long-established restaurants have recently disappeared from the foodie scene. Terry Laybourne’s Bistro 21 at Aykley Heads was closed suddenly in October. The lease on the restaurant had been up for sale for several months and some of the staff had found work elsewhere. This then put pressure on the restaurant to deliver the same quality food. It was decided that the restaurant was better off closing than letting this happen.
The second high-profile closure has been Oldfields Eating House at the bottom of Claypath. Oldfields closed it’s doors on 31st December 2015 after trading in the location for 13 years. In this case the closure has been caused by the seemingly inexorable expansion of ‘student accommodation’. Student Castle want to build 311 studios and 24 “cluster flats” at 18-29 Claypath. This involves the demolition of several buildings and Oldfields restaurant, Kwik Fit, Durham City Snooker Club and Warm Sanctuary are all affected.
This blog is shocked and surprised that this has happened, but it seems that the march of the University in Durham is now starting to displace other enterprises from the City Centre. Although the development is going to be run independently from the University itself, it seems nowhere is safe now when it comes to housing students. Everywhere you look, buildings are being bought and converted. The County Hospital, the Three Tuns Hotel, the Durham Light Infantryman in Gilesgate, the old Nevilles Cross WMC, even the new proposed Millburngate development is said to have a student accommodation layer on top!
Oldfield’s Restaurant owner Bill Oldfield was quoted in October saying: “We’ve only recently found out about the scheme and the change of ownership of our building. The developers have only just made contact with us and we’ve currently no plans to end our protected lease which has eight years to run. So unless the developers approach us with mutually agreeable solutions, as far as we’re concerned it’s business as usual into the future and reports of our restaurant building being demolished are rather premature.”
Well obviously he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, but is this really a suitable place for even more student accommodation? What do you think?