Calls have been made to Durham County Council (DCC) to secure derelict pubs in Seaham.
Seaham Town Council’s planning and environmental committee discussed the pubs on June 26 while noting an email sent to DCC’s regeneration team.
The email listed several pubs “letting Seaham down” and asked what the county council is doing to “make them safe”.
Problem pubs included the ex-Lord Byron pub near Hawthorn Square, the Golden Lion, Duke of Seaham and Inn Between in South Railway Street, and the fire-damaged Noah’s Ark pub building.
Coun Steven Colburn, speaking at the meeting at Seaham Town Hall, expressed concerns about the state of the former Lord Byron and Noah’s Ark.
“They’re directly adjacent to residential properties and if kids go into these buildings and something happens I’m not going to be happy having that on my conscience,” he said.
“We’re trying to project an image of Seaham as a place to come and see, and it’s incumbent on the county council to sort this out.
“There must be laws to force the owners of the buildings to bring them up to spec or do something about it.
“It doesn’t do anything for the residents who have to open their curtains and look at them in the morning.”
Coun Eddie Bell told the committee a potential solution of compulsory purchase orders – or taking over buildings without consent of the owner – is fraught with legal issues.
“The problem we have is that people who own these properties are speculating to try and get the best deal possible or price for them,” he said.
Coun Sonia Forster added: “Durham County Council is trying in different ways, and I agree it’s a disgrace, but the law is the law.”
The committee heard that planning permission had been submitted for two of the town’s derelict pubs in 2016, with decisions pending.
This includes plans to demolish the Noah’s Ark pub and build a new pub, restaurant, takeaway and 12-room bed and breakfast in its place.
The Lord Byron pub could also be demolished and replaced with four new homes and garages, pending a decision from DCC.
Committee chairman David McKenna added: “While we’re waiting for planning we need to make sure we get them secure and not dangerous.”
Councillors agreed to send another letter to the county council to update them on the derelict buildings.
DCC’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, Coun Carl Marshall, responded: “We share the concerns of Seaham Town Council over the condition of some private properties in the community.
“We are working with those responsible for a number of these premises to secure reuse or redevelopment.
“Where this is not possible we will use the powers available to us to bring about improvements or ensure the properties are maintained to a good state of repair.”
Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service