COUNCILLORS have approved plans for holiday accommodation next to a rural pub despite concerns about flooding and the scheme becoming a residential development.

Durham County Council’s north area planning committee meeting endorsed plans by Leslie Smith to build ten two and three-bedroom holiday lets and one estate manager’s bedroom at Knitsley Mill, Knitsley, near Consett.

The lets will be at the rear of the existing restaurant and bar.

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Lanchester and Healeyfield parish councils raised concerns about the development contributing to flooding in other areas and further downstream.

They also felt the application could be the beginning of a larger scheme and that it could become a residential development, which would be “unacceptable and inappropriate development in the countryside”.

Planning committee member Councillor Alan Shields, who voted against the plans said: “This area has flooded twice - on Thunder Thursday, on June 28, 2012, and two weeks later.

“It’s in the flood risk zone as far as I am concerned.”

Principal planning officer Graham Blakey, recommending approval, said the proposals were not considered to intrude into the open countryside by virtue of its valley bottom location and position close to an established building group.

He added: “Drainage in such a flood sensitive location has been successfully accommodated to ensure that the development does not contribute to flooding downstream.”

One of the planning conditions is that the accommodation only be occupied for holiday purposes and shall not be occupied as a person's sole or main place of residence - and should not be occupied at all between January 17 and January 31.