£4m lux­ury lodge scheme ap­proved for ho­tel re­sort

SEV­ERAL OBJECTIONS OVER CON­CERNS THAT HER­ITAGE AR­EAS COULD BE AF­FECTED

Sunderland Echo - - News - Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter Twit­ter: @sun­der­lan­de­cho

A multi-mil­lion-pound scheme to build lux­ury lodges atafive-starhotel­has­beenap­proved de­spite con­cerns her­itage ar­eas could be af­fected.

Af­ter years of pre-ap­pli­ca­tion dis­cus­sions, Sea­ham Hall sub­mit­ted plans to Durham County Coun­cil in Jan­uary for 24 new hol­i­day lodges in its grounds.

The £4mil­lion scheme in­cludes 20 sin­gle-storey lodges and full plan­ning per­mis­sion to build four two­s­torey build­ings.

Dur­ing con­sul­ta­tion, Eas­ing­ton MP Gra­hame Mor­ris and His­toric Eng­land raised con­cerns the scheme would im­pactview­soft­he­grade-Ilisted St Mary the Vir­gin Church.

Nine ob­jec­tion let­ters also noted the po­ten­tial im­pact on the church, ac­cess is­sues, in­creased noise and traf­fic con­ges­tion.

Coun­cil­lors heard ev­i­dence from the ob­jec­tors and Sea­ham Hall man­age­ment at Durham County Hall.

Ob­jec­tor Les­ley Chap­man said the plans would im­pact on­neigh­bour­ing­prop­er­tyThe Lodge and crit­i­cised the pub­lic­consul­ta­tion­pro­cess,which at­tracted 45 com­ments.

She also told the com­mit­tee St Mary the Vir­gin Church was one of the old­est churches of its type in the coun­try – a build­ing older than Durham Cathe­dral.

“If you had an ap­pli­ca­tion for a car­a­van park on Durham Cathe­dral I don’t think we would be tak­ing it se­ri­ously, but that is what we’re do­ing here,” she said.

Sea­ham Hall man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Ross Grieve, said the lodges would pro­vide the re­sort with a “strong and sta­ble fu­ture”.

He added the ho­tel would man­age the sales and let­ting of the lodges to “main­tain the qual­ity en­vi­ron­ment Sea­ham Hall is known for”.

The com­mit­tee heard the lodges would be ac­cessed from Sea­ham Hall’s ex­ist­ing west en­trance and are de­signed to re­duce po­ten­tial vis­i­bil­ity from pub­lic rights of way and the coastal path.

Area team leader for de­vel­op­ment man­age­ment, Sarah El­ridge, added the site was in a “her­itage rich lo­cal­ity” and would have a “less than sub­stan­tial” im­pact.

Dur­ingdis­cus­sion,coun­cil­lors called for as­sur­ances that her­itage and arche­o­log­i­cal as­sets would be pro­tected.

Coun Jan Blakey said: “I have con­cerns about what could­be­losto­fourhis­tory.I’m happy that they’re go­ing to do some­thing but once it starts, what­ever is there will be lost.”

Fol­low­ing dis­cus­sion, the pro­pos­als were passed nine to three.

The com­mit­tee heard that a full arche­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tion and record would be taken at the site be­fore the lodges are in­stalled along­side a sec­tion 106 agree­ment with DCC.

Un­der this agree­ment, Sea­ham Hall will pay £7774,08 to­wards con­ser­va­tion ar­eas and pro­vid­ing al­ter­na­tive green space east of the site.

Sea­ham Hall.

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