The North East entrepreneur behind a proposed new holiday lodge scheme in County Durham that could have pumped millions of pounds into the local economy, has hit out over the scheme’s rejection.
Peter Conroy had hoped to build 24 luxury holiday lodges and a reception building on a site close to Beamish Museum, in a move that was considered by planning experts and the local authority as a big boost for the region’s holiday industry.
It would have also created new construction and hospitality jobs in a deprived area as well as helped to sustain businesses and suppliers within the Beamish, Stanley and wider Durham region.
Now, Mr Conroy has called the planning inspectorate’s decision not to approve the application, which had the backing of Durham County Council Planning department, ‘a sad day indeed for the area and ambitions for further local tourism and leisure development’.
Thanking Durham County Council Planning Department, who had recommended approval after recognising the need for the development, he said: “This is extremely disappointing news that the inspectorate has failed to see the opportunities and benefits on offer in rejecting our plans.
“I think its [the planning inspectorate] decision is short sighted – particularly after the council’s own planning experts recommended it for approval in the first instance.”
While the inspectorate accepted the proposed development demonstrated a need, Peter Conroy was ‘extremely disappointed’ that it appears they seem to only want to approve sites that are within walking distance of attractions and amenities.
He said: “In a rural setting where holidaymakers wish to spend their time relaxing and can only reach their destination by vehicle, it is nigh on impossible to be next to amenities . You only have to think of the Lake District as to how a destination in a beautiful location can be enjoyed by many, without amenities being in walking proximity.
“The Inspector has dismissed the appeal both on the basis that visitors could stay further away – presumably travelling by car to visit attractions such as Beamish Museum. They are clearly happy for people to stay outside the region and travel in by car, which the local councillors should be very disappointed at given their desire to see less vehicles on the county’s roads and more overnight stays to benefit the economy.
“Sadly, I think it all reflects a broken planning system that urgently needs a shake-up if future schemes that will deliver hope and economic prosperity to places in parts of County Durham are ever to get the green light.”