A former County Durham care home will be converted into a new hotel. 

A change of use planning application for Shotley Park Residential Home has been approved by Durham County Council. 

The mid-nineteenth-century mansion in Shotley Bridge is Grade II-listed but suddenly closed in 2023. The company which operated the care home said rising energy, food, and operational costs made the business untenable. 

The full details of the redevelopment are yet to be revealed and will be the subject of a separate planning and listed building consent application. 

News of the planning approval has caused some residents to question the future of the building, however. Eight letters of objection raised concerns about inadequate road access, increased traffic, and a lack of information. 

Shotley Park also forms part of the Shotley Bridge Conservation Area, and residents warned of the impact the redevelopment could have on wildlife and nature. 

Local councillor Stephen Robinson said there was nothing wrong with the care home and is concerned that a hotel would include a licensed bar/restaurant and this would lead to “a huge increase” in traffic.

However, the applicant, who remains unknown, said vehicle access from the A694 will be improved to aid visibility and signage will be installed to provide warning to drivers.

Stephen Reed, planning development manager at Durham County Council, said: “This was a change of use application seeking permission to change the building’s use class from a care home to a hotel.

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“It is common for applicants to seek permission for a change of use before committing to drawing up detailed plans or making any further investment.

“The applicant submitted all of the information required for us to consider the application, which was approved subject to a number of conditions covering areas including car parking arrangements, lighting, access improvements, and noise management.

“As this is a Grade II listed building, separate listed buildings consent will be needed before any physical works to convert the building can be carried out.”