Protest over Durham hotel’s housing plan

Ramside Hall Hotel, near Durham, where a housing development is planned.

Ramside Hall Hotel, near Durham, where a housing development is planned.

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A HOUSING development which aims to generate cash for a luxury hotel’s expansion has come under fire.

Ramside Hall, in Durham, has applied for outline planning permission to build 21 new homes on a plot of land which makes up part of its golf course, and another 13 at Hill Top Farm in Carrville.

The business says the development would allow it to go ahead with a project to increase the size of the hotel, by making up a funding shortfall.

The £18million scheme, approved in 2004 with foundations laid last year, includes expanding the golf course to create a total of 36 holes to the south of Pittington Lane, and a leisure facility including a spa and swimming pool.

A replacement ballroom and conference facility and extra parking would also be created.

However, while the proposals have gained the backing of the region’s economic and tourism experts, they have not won favour with residents, Belmont and Pittington parish councils, or the City of Durham Trust, which have all objected. A 114-signature petition has also been collected.

Issues include concerns over increased traffic, building on green belt land, impact on wildlife, relocation of footpath.

Durham County Council officers have recommended the housing development is approved by councillors, subject to it being considered by the Secretary of State.

If the proposals are passed, a series of conditions could be added.

These include rules on housing occupation, a contribution to affordable housing, a traffic assessment of Wantage Road– where an entrance to the homes on the golf course land would go – highways works and a package of community benefit measures.

In a document to back up its application, the hotel said the project would offer an “exciting and viable future for Ramside, at a time when all businesses are feeling the pressures of recession,” although it notes the location of the housing is not straight forward.

It added: “The housing will provide the shortfall funding in a project that will cost almost £18milllion, and allow the high standards of Ramside to be maintained, building out in a short timeframe, with the minimal disruption to the existing business.”

It lists its current workforce of 550, creation of 80 full-time jobs, boost to the local economy - with £11.46million of additional revenue to be generated by guests - extra conference facilities and the new golf course as reasons why it should be approved.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham