Residents living in a County Durham village say they are constantly ‘disturbed’ by stag and hen parties taking over a peoperty in their neighbourhood. 

Visitors have taken advantage of an Airbnb/ holiday let service provided out of Highfield House, in Haswell - a former care home that closed in 2016. 

It is believed the property has been used as a single home by the applicant, Tina Robinson, but more recently has been occupied under the name ‘Lucan Lodge’, marketed at large groups visiting the area. 

A current enforcement case, which relates to an unauthorised change of use of the property to self-contained residential units, is pending investigation. 

FLASH SALE: Subscribe to The Northern Echo for just £1 per month

But now, Ms Robinson has applied to convert the property into two separate homes following complaints from residents over noise. 

In a written statement, Ms Robinson told Durham County Council’s planning team: “I have nothing but problems with guests not respecting house rules and with neighbours complaining about the noise instead of ringing me so I could nip it in the bud, as I can not hear noise from my property which is attached. I have now decided to close down my business.”

“To enable me to remain in my property I have decided to apply for residential planning permission to split Lucan Lodge from Highfield House creating a three/ four bedroomed bungalow with a shared drive, creating one extra property and not two as stated. 

“My intentions are to use the money generated by the sale of Lucan Lodge to upgrade Highfield House and continue to live in the property and be an active member of Haswell and support the local businesses as I always have.”

However, local county councillor Chris Hood warned that the business is still advertised online, though it is not currently taking bookings.  

He said: “The home is still live across the Internet on many of the country’s leading booking sites. In the applicant’s own words the property is ‘perfect for group trips and hen do’s’.”

Speaking on behalf of 35 nearby residents, Shelly Bright fears the plans will lead to an expansion of the holiday let business. 

In an emotional speech, she told the committee: “We have had no quiet enjoyment of our properties since 2019. We would be very grateful if the applicant’s proposal to split the property in two and use them as two homes was the plan. 

“It certainly would solve the disturbance problem, but we feel this is highly unlikely without restrictions being put in place. 

“The business is still running and this weekend there were people outside Lucan Lodge with loud voices, swearing. This went on til midnight and disturbed nearby residents.”

Cllr Hood encouraged Ms Robinson to resubmit the application that prioritizes residential properties over commercial. 

“Both the residents and I would be more than happy if the property was developed into two residential properties. However, even though the report states 16 times the word residential, it also states: ‘it would remain that each dwelling could be occupied as a short-term holiday let without the need for planning permission’. 

“These plans allow the owner to continue to run a holiday let business.” 

Ms Bright urged the committee to put residents’ concerns first and asked it to consider implementing rules for Ms Robinson to follow. 

Read next: 

“This whole application hinges on the goodwill and honesty of the applicant, who still has their unauthorised holiday lets business in full operation,” she added. “Once this planning has been passed the applicant can do whatever they want with regards to expanding their business and unfortunately, if that is the case the disturbance will increase.” 

Ms Robinson did not attend the planning meeting to respond to the concerns. 

Committee members approved the application but added the strict condition that the property cannot be used for short-term holiday lets or rentals.