A COMMUNITY theatre group's plans to build a workshop have been blocked by councillors.

Managers at successful theatre group Cap-a-Pie, based at Manor House Farm, near Lanchester, were hoping to build a theatre workshop near their offices.

But, as expected, councillors at Derwentside District Council decided to accept advice from planning officers and rejected the plans.

Planning officers argued the converted building would be "out of scale and character" with nearby buildings, and several planning regulations would have to be breached.

Two objections were also sent in by neighbours worried about increases in traffic, and complaining about building in rural areas.

Principal planning officer Darren Cuming said that councillors had wanted to support the community group, but in the end voted not to break clear planning objectives.

Executive director at Cap-a-Pie, Jez Arrow, remained philosophical about the setback.

He said: "It's a shame, but it's not the end of the world for us. We wanted to use the area for rehearsals, workshops and maybe for storage.

"We've grown so much in our four years and we are optimistic we shall continue, so this seemed like an excellent idea.

"We can still cope where we are now and will think about how we might expand in the future."

A children's production of The Tempest involving 30 local children who attend Cap-a-Pie will be performed at Stanley Civic Hall on August 31 and September 1