NO ROOM AT THE INN: Owners of the Ancient Unicorn say they are often occupied to capacity
NO ROOM AT THE INN: Owners of the Ancient Unicorn say they are often occupied to capacity

A HISTORIC Teesdale hotel is looking to expand its operation in an ambitious development plan submitted to Durham County Council planning department this week.

Owners of The Ancient Unicorn Hotel, in Bowes, say they are often occupied to capacity and are hoping to turn abandoned and ruined barns to the rear of the Grade two listed building into additional guest accommodation as well as three separate dwellings.

The scheme, if approved, would increase the number of available rooms from 14 to 22. The addition of one two bedroom and two three bedroom properties could be used as holiday lets or private homes.

In a design and access statement, Christopher Fish, agent acting on behalf of the owners, Andrew and Fiona Sparrow, says the proposed extensions will provide an opportunity to grow the business and consolidate accommodation on offer in Teesdale.

The Ancient Unicorn Hotel, which is reputed to be haunted, was purchased and refurbished by Mr and Mrs Sparrow three years ago after it had been closed for some time.

The barns at the rear of the hotel date in age to the 17th century through to the 19th century and are in varying states of disrepair.

The construction of the two storey infill houses would form a courtyard behind the hotel’s existing courtyard.

Access to the letting rooms and properties would be via an archway. An existing pedestrian and agricultural right of way would be retained. However the development would require the removal of several large, mature trees.

All of the letting rooms would be en-suite and would be formed around a courtyard with additional parking for guests.

Permission was granted a year ago to convert the existing barns into five dwellings, though no work was ever started.