PLANNING permission has been granted to transform an award-winning County Durham hotel.

STR Enterprises have received planning permission for a major upgrade to the Honest Lawyer Hotel at Croxdale Bridge, near Durham city.

Situated just off the A167, the 3* and AA Rosette hotel had acquired an enviable reputation not only as a base for visitors to Durham, but also for its restaurant.

Like most hospitality venues, however, the coronavirus pandemic had forced the Sanderson family, owners of the hotel, to reconsider their offer in the light of potentially ongoing restrictions and changing trends in weddings and other functions.

Jason Sanderson, director of his family owned leisure group, said: “As a hospitality company, we’ve always been interested in unique buildings whose potential hasn’t been realised for one reason or another but could be achieved with investment and great service. We therefore purchased the hotel, previously known as the Bridge Inn, in 2003 and renamed it the Honest Lawyer after a popular New Zealand hotel. Under the careful stewardship of our Group’s Executive Chef, Harry Bailey, we then built up a first class reputation for the accommodation, restaurant and importantly as a function venue, particularly for weddings.

“However, to stay ahead in the hospitality sector, you have to be very self-critical and, in truth, we had already begun to look at refreshing the venue and it’s offer prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

“Come lockdown and the accompanying restrictions, we moved up a gear with those plans, working closely with our designers David King and Chris Sutton of Bilateral Design, to submit plans to completely remodel the interior to take advantage of the trend for smaller functions for up to 60 guests post-Covid with a new function room with its own bar and toilets. In the first phase, which will start very soon, we are starting with a complete external redecoration with new branding and signage, after which the internal refurbishment will proceed whilst the hotel is still operational

“Coupled with this, we’re building on the restaurant’s reputation with a new menu to not only retain our existing loyal customers but hopefully attract an additional new clientele. The £600,000 investment project will allow us to maintain our individuality and build upon our reputation for great food and excellent service and we can’t wait to fully re-open later this year.”

The Northern Echo:

The STR Enterprises estate includes The Victoria Hotel, Bamburgh, The Honest Lawyer Hotel, Durham, Point Cottages in Bamburgh, The Quayside Exchange, Sunderland, The Centurion Bar in Newcastle and Centurion Park, Wallsend.

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