PLANS to build four houses within the grounds of a historic hotel are expected to be thrown out by a council committee on heritage grounds.
Alan and David Bradley, who run Hardwicke Hall Manor Hotel, near Blackhall, want to build four two-storey houses and partially-demolish a Grade II-listed boundary wall to give a much-needed cash injection to the business.
But officers at Durham County Council’s area planning committee have recommended that the application, which also asks for listed building consent for the new two-storey three bedroom houses, be refused.
However, the owners of the 1800s country house hotel, which employs 14 full-time staff and 13 part-time staff, say in a report that the sale of the houses would “generate a significant injection of capital in order to secure the long-term future of the hotel business”.
A report to a planning meeting scheduled for January 10 says the application is unacceptable due to its scale and prominence being “harmful to the special setting of the Grade II listed Hardwicke Hall Manor and Grade II listed garden wall.”
It adds that the residential development would be in a “designated area of high landscape value” and says “isolated residential development in such a location is unacceptable unless special circumstances have been demonstrated”.
Also within the report, the council’s senior landscape architect considers that the “development would reduce the extent of the countryside between the built settlement of Blackhall Colliery and the cluster of dwellings along the B1281.
“The development is considered to harm the setting of the heritage assets.
“The proposed two-storey dwellings will be prominent on the approach to the hall itself and will impact upon the setting of the hall and listed walled garden.”
The council’s senior structural engineer adds “the heritage values of the walled garden would be harmed and the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the harm is necessary to secure the long-term future of the either the hall or the garden”.
The council’s archeology department has also objected to the proposal, saying the application would have an impact on the setting of the hall and recommends that trial trenching in the area is done as there is “strong evidence of a medieval presence in the vicinity of the manor/hall”.
But in the report, the Bradleys say: “The development is considered to have been designed to a high standard so as to not harm the area or listed status of the wall it lies within at Hardwicke Hall Manor.”
They add that most emphasis is “placed on the contribution the development would make to the sustaining of the existing hotel business and the benefits of this to the local community, economy, employment and conservation of the listed building and wall themselves.”
David Bradley did not wish to comment when contacted by the Hartlepool Mail until he had time to digest the report’s recommendation.