FRESH designs have been drawn up to turn an 18th century home into a boutique hotel.
The plans for The Castle, in Castle Eden, show how it could be transformed into a 10-bedroom hotel, and could prove to be the saviour of the Grade II listed building.
The latest scheme follows on from a similar project turned down earlier this year by Durham County Council, after it attracted more than 60 letters of objection from residents.
Councillors rejected the idea on the grounds a hotel would generate too much activity in the rural and residential area, and have an adverse impact on neighbours, roads and drainage problems.
The new plan has already attracted letters from about a dozen people from the village and nearby Peterlee, with all but two in support of it, as they say it would bring jobs and much-needed accommodation to the area.
A report by town planners England and Lyle, on behalf of The Castle Eden Partnership, states it could bring in tourists and give the area an economic boost.
Its restaurant would source supplies locally, and visitors would help to support the area’s shops, pubs, services and attractions.
The statement said: “The Castle currently forms a substantial private dwelling and there are significant costs associated with the general maintenance and upkeep of the building.
“Despite the continued efforts of the current owners, there is evidence in place throughout the building where ongoing maintenance is required and, as a result of time and financial constraints, these works have not yet been carried out.
“The establishment of a commercial venture at The Castle, in the form of the proposed hotel, would generate revenue which would enable to essential maintenance and upkeep of this nationally significant building to be undertaken far more readily than at the current time, thus ensuring that the building can be adequately maintained and safeguarded for enjoyment by this and future generations.
“There will also be a commercial requirement to maintain the building in an appropriate state of repair, as guests of the proposed hotel will not accept any issues with the physical condition of the building.”
The plans also suggest improvements to the junction on the B1281, which has caused concern to objectors.
And the owners are sure the building and woodland would screen off noise from events such as weddings.
No external changes would be made, but the owners want to put in a gravel parking area to allow for disabled parking and install a lift inside, with internal walls to be moved and blocked to create bedrooms, a new kitchen and other areas.
The interior of the three-storey building is neo-classical in design and includes a central hall leading to a oval saloon and several mid-18th century chimney pieces in addition to contemporary features.
The decision on the plan has been delegated to a planning officer.