COUNCIL bosses have accepted plans for a hotel on the site of Durham’s former passport office at the second time of asking.

Planning chiefs rejected a proposal in July, calling the scheme ‘not worthy’ of the city and told developers to try again.

After reviewing a revised application for the site in Framwelgate Waterside, county councillors declared themselves satisfied.

Durham County Council’s County planning committee heard objections from members of the public and the City of Durham Parish Council, who said it only offered ‘slight’ improvements on the previous plans.

But Councillor John Clare, who led opposition to the scheme at July’s meeting, was more positive.

He said: “When we came to look at this last time we did not want to say no to it, because it’s such an important development, economically, to the city.

“And yet, we could not find it in our hearts to say yes to that hotel, which would have turned its back on Milburngate and turned it into a hotel service yard and made it look like something from Stalinist Poland.”

He added: “We have to weigh the benefits against the negatives and when you look at the potential benefits to this city from this development the benefits demonstrably outweigh the negatives.”

Previous plan for a layby for delivery vehicles to access the site directly from the A690 were blasted by Councillor Clare for making the first view of Durham for visitors arriving from the railway station would be a ‘tradesman’s entrance’.

In the updated scheme this has been replaced with new service entrance from Framwelgate Waterside.

But to implement this the road will have to be widened, which will include the removal of grass verges and trees along parts of the route, another sore point for objectors.

As well as the 92-bedroom hotel for the site, councillors were also asked to approved plans for a service yard and car parking at the site.

A separate application for an office block was also put to them for consideration.

Developers claim the site represents £100m-worth of investment into the city and could provide almost 800 jobs.

Members of the panel approved all three applications.

The former Milburngate House building was constructed in the 1960s for the Post Office Savings Bank, later known as the National Savings & Investments.

The passport office later moved in and shared use of the building. The site is being cleared by demolition teams and prepared for construction.