Businessman considers reviving plans for permanent caravan park in Seaham

A convention by Light and Life Gypsy Church has been taking place at Seaham Hall Farm this week.

A convention by Light and Life Gypsy Church has been taking place at Seaham Hall Farm this week.

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A permanent caravan park and campsite on the site of this week’s travellers’ church convention in Seaham would be a “good attraction”, insists a local businessman.

John Noble, who runs a car boot sale at Seaham Hall Farm every Sunday as managing director of Nobles Promotions Ltd, failed in a planning application to build a £2million holiday development between Seaham and Ryhope two years ago.

It would be ideal because of the tourism it would bring, and the location of it, while it would also create jobs in Seaham

John Noble, managing director of Nobles Promotions Ltd

Now, though, he is considering relaunching the bid, this time at Seaham Hall Farm, where a convention by Light and Life Gypsy Church has been taking place this week.

According to police, about 1,000 caravans have been on the field this week, with the travellers expected to depart today.

Mr Noble has not been part of the event, but does feel a caravan park at the venue could work, and claims he has entered early negotiations over a plan for a site housing 100 static caravans, as well as 20 tourists and 40 campers at a campsite.

The last time he launched a bid for a similar park saw him spend an estimated £25,000 going through the planning stage before Seaham Town Council withdrew its support.

He is hoping that this time more people will be able to see its “attraction”.

Mr Noble said: “We’re in the first stage of negotiations about it, and a lot of people are in agreement with me that this is something Seaham does need. It would be a good attraction for people.

“We have started talks, but I haven’t gone back yet and made a formal application.

“It would be ideal because of the tourism it would bring, and the location of it, while it would also create jobs in Seaham.

“If you’ve got static caravans and a campsite, you’re going to need someone looking after the place and looking after the tourists.”

On this week’s church convention, Mr Noble added: “I didn’t expect anywhere near as many people turning up for it.

“I have not been involved in the event in any way, but the feedback I’m getting is that it has brought money into the town.

“The police are going to be present today to see it is an orderly withdrawal from the site, and providing that goes well, we’ve got no problems, and the car boot sale will go ahead as normal on Sunday.”

Graham Wood, economic development manager at Durham County Council, said: “There are no formal discussions or negotiations underway, however we have offered to facilitate a preliminary discussion should Mr Noble wish to provide further details on his proposal.”

Meanwhile, Colin Snowdon, landowner of Seaham Hall Farm, says he has donated the fee received from Light and Life Gypsy Church for holding the convention there to charity.

The “substantial” sum has been donated to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle.

Mr Snowdon said: “It was a substantial donation, which meant I got no money for letting the group use the land, and neither did Nobles.

“I didn’t want a penny for letting them use the land, but the group felt it was appropriate to give some money, and when I talked to one of their leaders about the unit at the Freeman, they were more than happy to donate the money there.”