Hotel bids for change of use

FORMER student houses at Longhirst Hall will be opened up to general use under plans to formalise an existing principle.

The Longhirst Group, which runs the luxury hotel and surrounding estate near Morpeth, will lodge an application with Northumberland County Council next month to formally request permission for the buildings to be used for general residential purposes.

The 36 six-bedroom houses were built for student accommodation in the early 1990s when the Longhirst estate was redeveloped to form a conference centre and university campus, but there is no longer a need for them.

Longhirst Group Chief Executive Stephen Cowell said: “Since the university vacated the site there has been no requirement for student residences and we have had to explore what alternative use they can be put to.

“We are now applying for permission to the council for a change of use so that the houses can be used for residential purposes generally, rather than specifically for students.

“Our proposals involve no new developments, no new buildings or roads. We are simply seeking to enhance the estate by making best use of what is already built and ensure that the magnificent estate is maintained in a manner entirely in keeping with the local environment.”

A public consultation event will be held at Longhirst Hall on Tuesday, from 11am to 7pm, for people to view the plans and talk to members of the project team.

Anyone attending should report to reception on arrival.