THE owners of some of the North’s most fashionable and exclusive venues has revealed how its next venture – in County Durham – will look.

When the Jersey Farm Hotel, in Barnard Castle, reopens following a £3m refurbishment it will be as Runa Farm hotel, wedding venue, restaurant and café bar.

Bosses at leisure operator Apartment Group – which also runs Le Petit Chateau and Newton Hall in Northumberland, As You Like It and Florita’s in Newcastle and Sunderland’s Liberty Brown – aim to give the venue a ‘boho, earthy, honest’ vibe.

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It will have 30 bedrooms including a farmhouse available for exclusive use for private parties such as family celebrations and corporate event and a new chapel and function room, which is designed to feel like an Ibizan farmhouse.

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In the grounds there will be a glamping area, cabins offering spa treatments and a woodland area for children.

The restaurant aims to tap into the big Sunday lunch and afternoon tea markets and key dates for next year are already being booked up for weddings for up to 150 guests.

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Debrah Duggan, chief operations officer at Apartment Group, said: “It is going to be 100 per cent different to anything else in the North of England really."

After planning permission for the redevelopment and extension of the hotel was approved by Durham County Council last month, building work is now well underway.

The transformation will allow the venue to accommodate larger weddings for up to 150 guests with a new reception area, function suite and kitchen and outdoor ceremony area.

Timber, stone, glass and metal sheeting will replicate the agricultural look of the original farm conversation and internally the furnishings will feature lots of cream, brown and blue tones and fabric.

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Mrs Duggan said: "At about £3m, it is a nice investment for the area. We believe it is a great area and are looking forward to doing great things for it.

“The site is full of builders now and we hope to open in late autumn, early winter.

“We think it will create at least 60 jobs and will be having a recruitment drive soon.”

The Jersey Farm closed about four months ago, leaving some couples in limbo about their wedding plans.

Mrs Duggan said Apartment Group bought the premises as an asset and said the previous owner refunded all deposits on cancelled bookings.

She said: “When we bought it, it was buildings and land, there was no business on the books but one couple who had planned to have their wedding at the Jersey Farm are booked up with us.

“What really attracted us to it was the beautiful, farm feel which we will keep and the food will be a really important focus for us, we’re about freshness, we’ll use lots of local suppliers and look to grow our own veg.

“The venue will have a feeling of passing in time, that relaxed but chic Ibizan farmhouse vibe, earthy but elegant.

“It won’t just be about the hotel residents but be open to everyone and we hope people will come and enjoy the spaces we create and that it will be a destination for Sunday lunches and afternoon tea is a speciality for us so we’ll concentrate a lot on that.

“I’m certain it is going to be very, very special and we’re delighted to be bringing it to the area.”

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