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Hardwick Views, Sedgefield

DATE: 08 Jul 2008

 

Six-day inquiry into proposals for a holiday park comprising 330 static caravans and 48 lodges, together with associated infrastructure, at an 88ha site adjacent to the historic Hardwick Park in Sedgefield (a registered historic park and garden, and a conservation area which included the Grade II listed Hardwick Hall).

The scheme was designed with the specific objective of enhancing the historic landscape of Hardwick Park, in particular by (inter alia) the removal of unattractive and prominent farm buildings on the appeal site and the restoration of certain historic views. The caravans and lodges were proposed to be arranged in clusters which would be fully screened by over 10ha of new woodland planting. A condition was proposed whereby no caravans or lodges would be sited until the new planting had been in place for five years, thereby ensuring that the screening was effective.

Despite support from English Heritage and Durham County Council (the owners of Hardwick Park), Sedgefield Borough Council refused to grant planning permission, against its Officers' advice. The six-day inquiry held into the developer's appeal against this decision considered the following principal issues:

  1. The effect the proposal would have on the character and appearance of the local countryside, including its ecology and wildlife, bearing in mind national and local planning policies relating to tourism and rural development.

  2. The impact of the proposal on the character of Hardwick Park as a Grade II* registered historic park and garden; on the setting of Hardwick Hall as a Grade II listed building; and on the character and appearance of the Hardwick Park Conservation Area; and

  3. Whether the scale and nature of
    the proposal would result in environmental, economic and social benefits for
    the area, including reference to highway safety, community resources, services
    and the living conditions of local residents.

The Inspector's decision is due in early September 2008.

Christopher Katkowski QC and Charles Banner appeared for the Appellant, Theakston Farms LLP (instructed by Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners).