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Parish council eyes legal challenge after permission granted for housing developments intended to facility heritage works at visitor attraction

A parish council has raised more than £12,000 towards a legal challenge over Durham Council’s decision to give a developer permission for a 72-home development.

Staindrop Parish Council said it was continuing its preparations to seek a judicial review of Durham's decision in relation to the site off Winston Road.

It is pressing ahead despite neighbouring Gainford Parish Council having decided this week not to join the legal action and share the costs.

Staindrop said its councillors believed “the strength of feeling demonstrated by its fundraising appeal provides a mandate for the legal action”.

Earlier this month the parish council acknowledged that the costs of taking the judicial review legal action were significant, although it added that it had “carefully researched these and assured itself that it is protected against ‘unknown’ costs”.

In May 2020 Raby Estates submitted applications to the council for permission to build 72 houses on land at Winston Road in Staindrop and to build 79 houses at the west end of Gainford.

It has also received permission for an expansion of the visitor attraction at Raby Castle, Park and Gardens and claims that the money raised from the housing developments would facilitate the restoration of Grade 1-listed Gainford Hall and heritage buildings at the attraction.

Speaking on behalf of parish councillors, Cllr David Reed, Chairman of Staindrop Parish Council, says: “As with many residents of Staindrop, parish councillors are in favour of the developments at Raby Castle, Park and Gardens, but we object to how the housing developments are being used to fund the work.”

Staindrop PC said it had “listened to the public and taken extensive legal advice on the matter and believes it has a strong case to make in court”.

Stuart Timmiss, head of development and housing at Durham County Council, said: “We are committed to driving economic development and the development of new housing across County Durham.

“The application brings forward a significant visitor attraction in County Durham with the jobs and spend associated with this.

“There are always difficult balances and judgement in delivering our key strategies and the priorities set out by the Council Vision and Housing Strategy, but we remain committed to working with our communities in ensuring that all opportunities are fully explored in driving the county forward."

He added: “We are aware of the concerns expressed by Staindrop Parish Council and Gainford and Langton Parish Council and are engaged in correspondence with their legal representatives with regard to these matters.”