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Nov 13, 2021

A new holiday complex in County Durham would contribute ‘significantly’ to the millions of pounds pumped annually into the local economy if it gets the planning green light.

Proposals have been submitted for 24 two, three and four bedroomed luxury holiday lodges, a reception building and new landscaping on a site north west of Beamish Hall, in a move that is being seen by developer Peter Conroy as a big boost for the region’s holiday industry.

If the development is approved, upwards of 25 jobs will be supported during construction, along with 10 jobs created onsite once operational, as well as sustaining a host of local businesses within the Beamish, Stanley and Durham region.

The planned lodges, varying in size from 55 sq. m to 86 sq. m, with most featuring disabled access, have been designed as part of a landscape and heritage-led development that will be in keeping with the character of the area. The buildings will be constructed using local materials to match the colour and design of existing structures within the area.

A new reception building will house a waiting area, staff bathroom and offices with parking space for visitors close to the entrance. Access to the site will be improved with a new road, while a route to Beamish Hall, Beamish Park Golf Club and Beamish Outdoor Museum will improve connections to nearby attractions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Plans being considered by Durham County Council planning officers also include a 15m buffer zone to provide added protection for nearby ancient woodland, along with a commitment to deliver biodiversity improvements for the site.

Reflecting the strong demand for holiday accommodation in County Durham, the development will support the many visitor attractions, beaches and heritage sites, including the nearby museum, the region offers as Britain continues to remain popular for holidays.

It’s predicted by Visit Britain that British holidaymakers will splash out over £5billion on staycations this summer with overseas travel still off-limits, providing a much-need boost for the UK tourism industry.

In terms of economic benefits, Visit County Durham within its ‘Sub-Regional Value of Tourism’ analysis, has identified that visitors contribute more than £177 for an overnight stay compared to an average day trip spend of £21 to the local economy. Based on 32,000 visitors, this could be worth in excess of £6m annually to County Durham.

Joe Ridgeon, director at North East-based Hedley Planning Services, who is steering the application through the planning process, said: “As people continue to holiday closer to home in the next 12 months, millions of pounds could be injected back into the regional staycations economy.

“We’re seeing a lot of activity as developers bring forward their plans to tap into the staycation market, including the Beamish Valley Lodges project, which will provide a welcome boost to local holiday facilities. They offer guests luxury accommodation and the chance to stay in a beautiful part of the country, enjoying many attractions and world heritage sites in County Durham.”

He added that operators and developers across the leisure sector must think and act differently if they are to get their schemes off the ground in the current climate.

“This requires long term strategic input, planning and vision to maximise success – and firms like ours can help with advice and ideas,” he said. “With our expertise and experience, we’re working hard with developers and planning authorities to ensure that planning applications are both viable and meet regional needs.”

An announcement about planning approval is expected in autumn 2021 with the site open for summer 2022.