PLANS to demolish a pub and replace it with housing have come under criticism from residents and planning chiefs.

Planning officers are recommending that an application for the Causey Arch Inn, at Marley Hill, near Stanley, is rejected by Derwentside district councillors, when the development control committee meets on Thursday.

Durham Inns Limited has submitted an outline application for five terraced properties and two detached properties on the Beamish Burn Road site.

Ward councillor Kevin Howe, who is opposed to the plans, said: "There are no other residential developments on this stretch of road and to allow it could pave the way for future developments in the valley.

"The Causey Arch may well have historical value as a gateway feature to the land of the Prince Bishops, as well."

Residents have also raised concerns about increased traffic on the A6067, which, they say, is a "fast road" at this point, and about problems with parking. They say it is already bad at weekends, due to the nearby Beamish Park Hotel.

Durham Bat Group has said at least two species of bat feed around the Marley Hill colliery and breed in buildings and hamlets in the area.

In a report to the committee, senior planning officer Simon Le Jeune said the site would be classed as a brownfield, but lies outside the framework of any build up areas. He has recommended refusal on the grounds that the proposals would conflict with planning rules.