PLANS to extend facilities at a popular leisure park near Bishop Auckland have been submitted to Durham County Council.

The owners of Witton Castle Country Park, have submitted plans to extend the fishing lodge, erect three bird hides, lakeside platforms and change the use of fishing lakes to nature conservation and outdoor sports at the site known as Witton Castle Lakes.

An outdoor seating area and seasonal cafe are also proposed by renovating the existing lodge.

The 12-hectare site is currently used for angling - including by the Bishop Auckland Angling Club - and is connected to the historic Witton Castle which is Grade II listed and dates back to the 14th Century.

The site has been developed over several years and includes static caravans and lodges.

A design and access statement described how the existing lodge - which was built in 1990 for the angling club - was rarely used since 2010 as many anglers were now using the River Wear.

It has also been vandalised as it is partially hidden from sight.

It said: "The current fishing lodge looks worn out, neglected and. It is rarely used and is poorly detailed with no external landscaping.

"The existing fishing lodge does not contribute to the importance of the site and now detracts from it.

"Only one lake is currently used by the club but plans would see the owners introduce a recreational area for canoeing."

The existing store on the lodge would be demolished and replaced with a new one while changes would be made to both the inside and outside of the building.

The work - if approved - would be carried out in three phases.

The statement said: "The proposed extension and remodel lodge has been designed in a way to resemble a boat house or small lodge - the choice of materials makes it look as though it has been there for many years. The new lodge is traditional in appearance with a dash of modernity. The proposal makes a poor looking building look much more aesthetically pleasing , but does not dominate the area."

To view the plans visit