Plans to build holiday lodges close to Beamish have been rejected following appeals by developers. 

Peter Conroy had hoped to build the 24 ‘luxury’ lodges and a reception building on land near the historical museum but saw his proposal refused by Durham County Council’s planning committee in November 2022. 

He submitted an appeal to the government Planning Inspectorate but failed to convince officials to overturn the decision. 

Mr Conroy said the site would have been a big boost for the region’s holiday industry, and was backed by the local authority’s planning officers. 

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He said the facility would contribute ‘significantly’ to the millions of pounds pumped annually into the local economy and supported construction and hospitality jobs as well as sustaining a host of local businesses within the Beamish, Stanley and Durham region.

The Northern Echo: How the site could have looked, according to images submitted How the site could have looked, according to images submitted (Image: Peter Conroy)

Now, Mr Conroy has hit out at the outcome and called the planning inspectorate’s decision “a sad day for the area and ambitions for further local tourism and leisure development”. 

“I think [the] decision is short sighted - particularly after the council’s own planning experts recommended it for approval in the first instance,” he said. 

Councillors initially refused the proposal on the basis that visitor accommodation was not needed in the area, it would harm the nearby conservation area and would be difficult to access. The Planning Inspectorate supported the concerns. 

Although inspector Graham Wright said it would improve tourism in the area, he added: “I am not persuaded that a case has successfully been made that there is a locational justification to meet this need on the appeal site. 

“The harm that would result from the poor locational sustainability of the appeal site would not be outweighed by the benefits.”  

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The decision was also backed by county councillor Alison Batey, of the local Pelton ward.

She said: “It was a great idea but simply the wrong location. It had to be somewhere supported by a sustainable road network and infrastructure.”

Mr Conroy also criticised the current planning system after his appeal failed, adding: “The Inspector has dismissed the appeal on the basis that visitors could stay further away - presumably travelling by car to visit attractions such as Beamish Museum.

"They are clearly happy for people to stay outside the region and travel in by car, which the local councillors should be very disappointed at given their desire to see less vehicles on the county’s roads and more overnight stays to benefit the economy.

“Sadly, I think it all reflects a broken planning system that urgently needs a shake-up if future schemes that will deliver hope and economic prosperity to places in parts of County Durham are ever to get the green light.”