CALLS are being made to clean up a derelict pub that has become a focus for antisocial behaviour.

The Station Freehouse, in Station Road, St Helen Auckland, closed five years ago and has fallen into disrepair. Residents have reported that it is attracting poor behaviour. Durham County Councillor Rob Yorke wants to see a compulsory purchase order put on the pub, or for it to be demolished.

The fire-damaged building has been up for auction several times, but has failed to meet its reserve price.

The Northern Echo:

Michael David Phillips, who owns the land occupied by former pub, was given a community protection order in 2018 to clear up the rubbish on the site. However, he failed to comply and was ordered to pay costs of £330.54, and a £220 fine.

Since the pub closed residents have complained about various issues, including scrap cars outside the building, as well as issues with drug abuse, fly tipping and general antisocial behaviour.

The Northern Echo:

A few weeks ago vandals set fire to a fridge, tyres and plastic chairs at the back of the property, close to homes.

Nearby resident Maureen Woods said: “It’s an environmental hazard. It attracts kids who drink and set fire to things and it has had a negative impact on house prices.”

She added: “We can see the fires from our back window, sometimes the smoke blows across the road.”

Cllr Yorke said: “It’s an accident waiting to happen. We have been redeveloping the old Darlington Stockton railway into a green space and it has been declared a heritage action zone by Historic England and it would be beneficial if the eyesore be removed.”

The Northern Echo:

He added: “It is slap bang in the middle of this beautiful area. There has been a lot of redevelopment and new properties in the area and we have to keep this momentum going, a better appearance means more investment.”

Stuart Timmiss, Durham County Council’s head of development and housing, said: “We are aware of, and share local residents’ concerns over the condition of this property, and have been speaking to the owner and Cllr Yorke about what can be done to address this.

"We are also aware that there have been some fires and waste dumped at the site and are continuing to deploy our neighbourhood wardens to deter antisocial behaviour.”

Mr Philips was contacted for a comment but had not responded at the time of publication.