Plans to transform a Seaham family home into a tourist guesthouse have been given the go ahead by a Durham planning committee.
The county council’s central and east planning hub met today (April 10) to discuss an application to transform a four-bedroom house in Tempest Road.
The application by David Irwin includes plans for a five-room guesthouse and a two-bedroom family flat with an aim of meeting increasing demand for visitor accommodation in the tourist town.
The plans divided people, with letters of support from businesses who say they struggled to find places for visiting colleagues and residents facing the same difficulties when organising large family get-togethers.
Others living close to the building, which neighbours listed building Londonderry Court, also expressed concerns including parking issues, traffic congestion and noise and disruption caused by guests.
In total, ten letters of objection and a petition were received against 19 letters of support.
Dawdon councillor Kevin Shaw read out a statement on behalf of residents over the potential “residential impact” of the guest house including privacy, noise disruption to nearby sheltered accommodation and parking amenity.
In a previous planning statement, applicant Mr Irwin said he bought the property at auction with a view to renting it out and decided to convert the property after work began on the refurbishment.
Speaking at the meeting, he said he noticed the need for accommodation after finding it difficult to find hotels for families and friends in Seaham for his mother’s funeral.
In his comments, he raised a need for “variety” of accommodation in the town – “not just five-star” -and that despite the objections, many residents had given positive feedback during social media appeals.
“If Seaham is to grow as a destination the plan for more housing should be supported,” he added.
The applicant carried out a parking survey and in response to questions from the committee, confirmed that 24-hour public parking is available near the guest house site.
Additional changes to the building include the demolition of the existing entrance porch and replacing existing timber windows with PVC units.
Any guests staying at the property and booking online would be sent a notice about parking restrictions and to be aware of other neighbouring residents.
A planning officer said that similar Durham applications used car parks to serve properties and that the “worst case scenario” is seven more vehicles if the guest house is fully subscribed.
This includes two on site and with five off site spaces in “competition” with others in the area.
Planners have said the scheme would have an economic benefit to the area and would not have an adverse impact on residents and highway safety.
Coun Owen Temple also asked if the committee had any power to “alleviate that fear of winter lets of indeterminate length with very little supervision on site” by limiting the length of time residents can stay.
In response, a planner said that the committee could not enforce conditions on the length of occupancy.
Following a unanimous vote, the guest house plans were passed by the committee and can not welcome guests until a management scheme has been submitted and approved by Durham County Council.
The plan must include information on maintenance, security measures and liaison practices with residents and community groups will be notified about future changes.
The developer must also pay £1,619 towards the Durham Coast Management Plan as part of site conditions.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service