COUNCILLORS have approved plans that will save a Durham landmark from the bulldozers.

Brown's Boathouse, on the banks of the River Wear near Elvet Bridge, looked to be doomed when developers won planning permission to replace it with a large, glass-fronted pub.

A campaign was launched to save the 19th Century building, which is home to a boat hire business and is a part of the city's rowing tradition.

Despite 4,000 people signing a petition against the pub plan, the development won approval from a planning inspector following a public inquiry.

But new owners Newcastle-based Ultimate Leisure ran into costly problems that scuppered their plans.

Now they have rethought the scheme and come up with a plan that will retain the building, which is in a conservation area, for future generations.

The boathouse will become a caf bar that, with a floor space of 253 sq metres will be much smaller than the building the company originally planned.

The move has delighted the City of Durham Trust which proposed a scheme to save the building at the public inquiry.

The trust has supported the application and has offered to share with the firm its knowledge of the building's history "to capitalise on its unique position in the evolution of rowing in Britain".

Planning officer Allan Simpson told Durham City Council's development control committee, the city's main water main had been discovered between the boathouse and the Prince Bishops shopping centre.

Knocking down the boathouse could cause a mains failure "due to reliance upon the building's foundations as a retaining structure.

"Furthermore, the need to create river frontage working space would necessitate a temporary dam and use of barge, all of which would lead to inordinate costs," he said.

Conditions of approval include carrying out flood protection measures and drawing up evacuation plans.

The firm has given a long-term commitment to keep boat hire at the site and has also offered £3,500 towards the cost of public art on the riverside.

A further detailed planning application for any changes to the building may be submitted in the near future