A PLANNING application has been criticised by a group of residents who say they are not being listened to.

The Windlestone Hall Preservation Trust has applied for planning permission for a project that it says will help save the hall, near Newton Aycliffe.

It wants to build 13 four and five-bedroom houses and hopes that the money raised from their sale will help to renovate the hall, which has been in a state of deprivation.

The application also includes multiple new building additions, commercial space, lakes, statues, and an event space and states that many old buildings in the grounds could be restored.

This includes the restoration of the hall gardens, walled garden with public access and erection of new build ‘Gardener’s Cottage’, restoration of the ‘Old Stables’ and conversion to staff accommodation and low-carbon estate energy centre, and restoration of the old clocktower.

However, a group of residents who live close to the hall have voiced opposition to the plans.

The Windlestone Park Residents Group, compromises of residents who in and around the Windlestone Park Conservation area.

It has been set up due to "historical mismanagement of Windlestone Hall by multiple public and private entities which have resulted in the hall falling into disrepair".

The group unanimously welcome and support the restoration of Windlestone Hall but want to make sure that the plans are done with full transparency – and members have multiple concerns about the plans.

They are worried about how the plans will affect the existing woodland and wildlife – the plans mention the removal of trees and woodlands from an historic landscape conservation area, which the Forestry Commission object to.

They are also worried that the increase in traffic that the new houses will bring could make the roads around it dangerous – there have been multiple accidents on the road over the years.

The turning onto the A689 from the hall and resident homes is difficult and the road has a high volume of traffic, so the group recommends a speed restriction.

The plans also detail a back door service entrance for heavy goods vehicles down a narrow lane, which serves as a public footpath. The locals are worried as there are no passing points or lighting along the road, which is not designed for HGVs.

They are also calling for the justification of repositioning an electrical substation behind the home of an elderly resident.

However, some people support the plans.

One supporter from Stanley said: “I think that having to build new houses is essential. I would say that to me they look to be incredibly well designed and they are hidden away very cleverly.

“The main drive back up to the hall is going to look stunning, probably in a way that it hasn’t since the family sold the place 100 years ago.”

Another supporter from Anfield Plain said: “I think the new houses are great.

“One of the last owners was talking about more like 50 and the hall being sliced into little flats.

“No one wants that but its what we expected. Being able to visit the place and see all of those amazing buildings and the gardens and grounds is such a massive benefit.”