A PROPOSAL to build holiday lodges in the garden of a former rectory has been drawn up.

Durham County Council has received a planning application for five cottages, parking and communal gardens on a parcel of land behind The Old Rectory at Rokeby, near Barnard Castle.

The owner of the site, Darryl Cullerton, is keen to develop 2.2acres of the site and believes it could provide a number of economic and social benefits. In documents submitted with the plans last week, he says the environmental impact would be ‘extremely limited’.

It is proposed that the lodges would have timber facades and slate effect roof tiles.

In a statement to the council, agent Jon Tweddell, of JT Planning, wrote: “The site lies discreetly behind an existing, large dwelling, on a developed section of road. The proposals are set back from the road and will not be visually prominent. The traditional design also takes account of the building style within the area. It is therefore considered that the proposal does not detract from the character of the area.”

He said the site is adequately screened by the landscape and existing trees and that it is already served by adequate drains, water and electricity to cope with the extra properties. An existing access point would be used, ten parking spaces created and the applicant feels that, because of its small scale and proximity to the A66, the development would not have an unacceptable impact on local roads.

Mr Tweddell said the scheme would provide additional tourist accommodation which is needed in the Teesdale, where employment in the tourism sector is becoming increasingly important as County Durham becomes increasingly popular with visitors from around the world.

Economic benefits would include ‘a new business with the potential to create employment opportunities and spin-off benefits to other businesses in the local supply chain’, he added.

A heritage statement, prepared for the applicant by Ian Carman of Shadbolt Architectural, acknowledged that whilst the site is not within a conservation area it does sits just 175m from Grade II* listed 1760s-built Church of St Mary’s.

It adds: “The proposal would have no physical impact on the heritage asset. However, it is hoped that it would have a very positive impact on the preservation and enjoyment of the church moving forward.”

He says the draw of increased visitors could help secure funds towards the building’s preservation in future.

An ecological report recommends measures such as incorporating pollinator friendly planting and bird and bat bricks and tubes in the development.

Consultation on the application runs until mid-December with a decision expected to be made by the council in January.