A decision to knock down a crumbling eyesore has been hailed as an “historic day for Easington Colliery.”
Councillors went against planners calls to refuse the proposal for the former school site in Seaside Lane.
I am highly delighted with the decision today.Ian Foster, chairman of Easington Colliery Parish Council
They said the economic boost it could bring, along with the physical and mental health benefits of removing the pigeon-infested and derelict plot, were too good to miss.
They added demolishing the vandal-hit buildings, which have fallen into disrepair since the school closed in 1997 and date back to 1913, would reduce crime.
Dozens of campaigners attended the planning committee at Durham County Council’s HQ, chanting in support of the application ahead of the meeting and clapping councillors as they spoke in support
Ian Foster, chairman of the parish council, was among those who gathered to hear the debate, which resulted in a unanimous vote of approval.
After the meeting he said: “I am highly delighted with the decision today.
“I’ve sat and listened to the councillors on the committee give their reasons to back the proposals and I think this is an historic day for Easington Colliery. “We’ve got a few more hurdles to go yet, now we want to hear from Tony Mann.”
He added a public meeting will be called with landowner Mr Mann to discuss its future.
He submitted the plans, but was unable to attend the meeting as he is in hospital after a fall.
The proposal will now go to the Secretary of State for a final decision, with the Grade II Listed status still in place.
A previous demolition plan was refused by the Government, sparking a public inquiry - Mr Mann must now show the site has been marketed and grants applied for to get the final go ahead.
Councillor David Boyes, who spoke on behalf of the parish council and fellow ward member Angela Surtees, told the meeting: “This is a momentous days in our history.
“The decision you make this afternoon will either condemn Easington Colliery to decades more of residents walking past, or worse, living opposite, a large dilapidated building right in the heart of Easington.”
Margaret Eales, who lives in School Terrace is among the 1,800 people who backed the demolition campaign.
She said: “Now I want to see some nice buildings there, bugalows, housing, green land, anything other than that.”
Coun Geraldine Bleasdale told the meeting: “Easington deserves better than for that to be there.”
English Heritage and the Victorian Society were among those calling for the school buildings to remain because they are a heritage asset.