Another bid to end St Peter's eyesore impasse
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A HOUSING developer is to submit yet more plans in a bid to develop the former St Peter’s school site in Gainford.
Kebbell Homes is working up a new scheme for the part of the site it owns after agreement with Ruttle Plant Hire – which owns the dilapidated eyesore – for the development of both the fire-hit building and surrounding land could not be reached.
The building, which has twice been targeted by arsonists, has stood empty for more than 20 years.
Two years ago, a breakthrough appeared possible when planning permission for the former school and surrounding land was given the go-ahead.
However, after negotiations between the two firms broke down, Kebbell put in plans for the part of the site it owns – the land to the back of the building.
That was turned down by Durham County Council and now the developer has asked to discuss a new set of proposals with Gainford Parish Council.
At the February meeting, Martin Clark, clerk to Gainford and Langton Parish Council, said: “They [Kebbell Homes] haven’t managed to get an agreement with Ruttle and will be putting in a new amended plan to the one that was turned down last year. They are asking if they could address the council.”
Chairwoman Cllr Lisa Johnstone asked if the developer had given any indication of what would be included in the application.
She added: “The original planning was changed. My understanding is this revised plan would not address the issue of St Peter’s and we would have some new issues behind St Peter’s.”
Mr Clark explained Kebbell is using the same planning agents and it would appear some pre-planning application discussions have taken place with the county council.
He added: “The council have always said it would be open to the public about the discussions surrounding St Peter’s. Do you want them at the meeting?”
Cllr Simon Platten said: “I would like to hear what they have to say, given all that happened around St Peter’s.
“It would be remiss of us if we didn’t have a conversation with someone about it.”
Cllr Richard Roff added: “If they wanted to talk to the public this will be the parish council questions and the public can listen to it but it is not a free for all with questions.”
It was agreed representatives from Kebbell Homes’ planning agents will be invited to outline plans to the council.
They will be asked to provide an email address so members of the public can forward questions in advance of the meeting.