PLANS to transform a village guesthouse into a funeral home have been given the go-ahead by Durham County Council.

Earlier in March, a planning application was lodged for the Hillrise Guesthouse, on Durham Road in Bowburn.

Cochranes Funeral Directors sought consent to transform the building into a “satellite branch” of the firm’s main site in Shotton Colliery.

Planning documents outlined how the property would be converted, including a mortuary at the rear with a separate access, and a funeral reception area with a capacity of up to 35 people at the front.

Funeral vehicles would be stored at Shotton Colliery, with a funeral director and receptionist based at Bowburn site on a daily basis with a company vehicle. When a funeral leaves the premises, around six to ten staff could be on site.

Following consultation, Durham County Council’s planning department approved the plans on Tuesday, June 30.

Although environmental health officers said the business is regulated and maintains “high industry standards”, a request was made to restrict hours of operation to protect the “residential amenity of surrounding properties”.

Approved opening hours include 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 2pm, on Saturday. No works which are audible outside the site are allowed on Sundays and Bank Holidays. And viewings by appointment can be made up until 10pm, with 24 hour access required for staff.

The business is expected to create one full-time and four part-time jobs. 

Under planning conditions, the development must be brought forward within the next three years.