House plan at crime-hit stables approved - despite being recommended for refusal

Plans to build a house next to a horses’ paddock and stables ‘consistently targeted by criminals’ have been given the green light.

Development experts at Durham County Council had recommended the proposals for the property at land off the B1432 Stockton Road, near Cold Hesledon, Seaham, should be rejected.

But county chiefs decided they were not happy with the suggested reasons for refusal and instead agreed to approve the scheme after hearing how the site has been terrorised in recent years.

Helen Heward, representing the applicants, named in paperwork as Steven Kerby and Nicholas Cordner, said: “The site has been consistently targeted by criminals, resulting in loss and damage to property and financial cost.

Looking over towards the paddock

“Gates have been left open for horses to wander on to the public highways, causing danger to the animals themselves and road users.

“The applicant has, on occasion, even taken personal risk by sleeping in his car to prevent this happening and additional security measures have been installed but these have not deterred criminals.

“This will allow additional security which will be a permanent deterrent to criminals.”

Heward was speaking at a meeting of the county council’s Area Planning Committee for central and east Durham, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

The council’s planning department had argued the proposed home was in an ‘unsustainable location’ due to its distance shops and other amenities, including public transport.

It added this would ‘foster an overreliance on the private car’.

But many members of the panel were unconvinced, pointing out approved plans for the nearby Seaham Garden Village and a previous decision to allow development of the former Pemberton Arms pub for housing.

Supporting the plans, Cllr Paul Taylor said: “I agree it’s an incursion into the countryside and a major concern is pedestrians walking in the darkness.

“I give no credence to the petition, which has signatures coming from far and wide.

“If we treat this on its own merits I think, in accordance with the planning regulations, it is a non-starter.”

The committee voted 8-3 to approve the ‘outline’ plans, with a more detailed proposal expected to be submitted for consideration later.

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