£4m luxury lodge scheme approved for hotel resort
SEVERAL OBJECTIONS OVER CONCERNS THAT HERITAGE AREAS COULD BE AFFECTED
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.