A FARM in a rural corner of County Durham could be transformed into a family run holiday park.

Planning application has been submitted to convert a St John’s Chapel farm into the holiday park that will feature glamping pods. The sites primary focus is to create a ‘community catalyst’ and help provide somewhere to help build up the local community.

The site will mainly be for families and educational use with a nature reserve, farmland and woodland and it seeks to preserve the human heritage of the dale like the mines.

The applicant, Michael Holgate said: “My partners family are from Weardale and are an ex-farming family they are very passionate about Weardale and its people. They wanted to add back to the dale and pulled together a proposal to help the economy of the middle and upper dale.

“What started as an idea grew into a project of supporting the community, economy and environment. We found that a day visitor would spend £19 in Weardale but an overnight visitor would spend £167 and the total increased income into the area is £2.5 million.”

The development of the 300 acre Sunny Banks Farm as a holiday park includes changing the use of Sunny Bank Farmhouse into a holiday cottage, conversion and adaption of existing barn buildings to offices and communal rooms for the use of visitors.

Alongside the proposed construction of two holiday cottages and the siting of ten traditional Shepherds huts and their servicing in the land surrounding of the farm house.

The purpose of the huts is to provide access to one of the last remote places in England for couples and families. Five of the huts will be for families with the other five being for couples and some will have special disability access who want to explore the area. They will not welcome stag dos or hen nights.

There is currently parking for eight cars on the site which is hoped to be extended to 12.

The Shepherds huts will be built by a Somerset company, Ashwood Shepherd Huts, a family run business that has been building huts for over 20 years. The shepherd’s huts will be tailored to give a rustic Weardale feeling in keeping with the holiday parks location.

The plans have caused some concern, with people citing the access road being far too small for the number of cars. The road is narrow and struggles to fit more than one car on at a time.

Residents fear that cars coming and going from the site would become a traffic nightmare.

One resident who lives near by said: “The road is too narrow and we will be swamped as the road will not be able to cope.”

Mr Holgate added: “I would like to stress we want to work in partnership with the local area and we take pride in the developing the land. Anyone’s concerns are valid we are keen to involve people in the project and want to address issues.”

Durham County Councillor for Weardale, John Shuttleworth said: “It is helpful if concerned residents submit their comments, to the Council's planning department as soon as possible, ideally within the next 21 days. Alternatively, they can email them to me, and I will forward them on."

Public comments can be made via Durham County Council's planning portal. publicaccess.durham.gov.uk