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Bid lodged for new housing at hall site

A former hotel and business venue on the edge of Morpeth could be turned into private housing if new plans are given the green light.

The owners of Longhirst Hall, Felton Property & Investments, have put forward an application to convert the site into 27 apartments and four private dwellings.

The original building was constructed by John Dobson for the Lawson family between 1824 and 1832 and served as a home for more than 100 years.

Staff at the hotel and conference centre were told without warning at the end of February that it would close immediately because the tenant management company running it, Hotel Lease (Number 3) Ltd, had ceased trading.

Dozens of couples who had been booked in for weddings faced having to look elsewhere.

Felton Property & Investments director Stephen Cowell said the advice from property experts was that residential development is the only sustainable option going forward.

He added: “We’ve thought long and hard about this and we’ve agreed that housing is the best choice for the site.

“The success of the Micklewood Park development in the grounds of Longhirst Hall was a big factor in our decision. In addition, the model for hotels is changing dramatically and that’s why there were no takers for it as a hotel when it was marketed.

“The hall and its surroundings is a wonderful place that needs to be looked after and treasured and we would like to stress that what we’re planning is an evolution of the site.

“There would be changes to some of the newer buildings, but the exterior of the original building would remain the same and all we would need to do on the inside is block up corridors and install kitchens and bathrooms.

“We hope to get the support of residents in Longhirst village and I am going to meet with the Parish Council this evening. Under these plans, there will be less traffic and noise and more open space in the grounds.”

In the late 1940s, then owners the Moore family sold the hall to the local authority, which turned it into an approved school and later a community home for boys. It later became a hotel, wedding venue and conference centre.

New buildings were installed in the early 1990s and they were used by Northumbria University and the former Castle Morpeth Council.

The closure did not affect the sports facilities elsewhere on the site – Morpeth Cricket, Hockey and Tennis Club and Longhirst Hall Golf Club.

Residents can view the application online by going to www.northumberland.gov.uk – click on Planning search and then type Longhirst into the box.

The bid will be determined by Northumberland County Council in due course.

 

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