IT is no surprise that the North-East has not been let out of Tier 3. It is hard to see how the Government could have relaxed the restrictions the day after issuing a dire warning about the freedom of the Christmas five days.

It is desperate news for the hospitality sector, and the restrictions do need to be reviewed so that food venues are able to reopen in the well organised way that hairdressers and nailbars are.

So let’s turn to some good news: a planning application has been submitted to restore Windlestone Hall, near Rushyford in the heart of County Durham. The birthplace of a Prime Minister and the design of one of the county’s greatest architects, the once magnificent stately home has immense potential after suffering decades of appalling decline and neglect.

It could indeed be eden.

Windlestone’s condition is a sore that eats away at Durham, and the county council which once owned it. We pray that this is not another false dawn, and we hope that everyone can work together to save this piece of history and create some stunning places to live. Surely better to save this jewel and its parkland than have another residential estate sprawling across the countryside.