CONTROVERSIAL plans for a holiday lodge in the grounds of a former walled garden have been given the go-ahead despite strong opposition.

John Westmarland applied for permission for the single-storey, four-bedroom lodge at the former Walled Garden in Walworth, near Darlington.

The application was discussed at a meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (December 12).

A report to members summarised four letters of objection received by the council, including one which raised concerns that the development would be detrimental to the nearby Grade I-listed Walworth Castle Hotel.

One of the letters read: “The numbers of rooms in the hotel which look out onto the market garden are significant and make the impact of the proposal severely detrimental to this historic area.

“Many local residents have a view of the castle and this proposed development will spoil any views the residents currently have.

“The holiday cottage can be viewed from many rooms in the castle.”

One letter of support was also received, which read: “I think this proposal is a great idea. Anything that will increase tourism to the area is a great opportunity, especially in times of economic uncertainty and should be backed fully.

“The proposed building would in no way have a detrimental effect on the area, I only see it as an asset and I think that more of these types of holiday rental accommodation should be introduced when proved a worthwhile addition to the area.”

Further objections were received from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Walworth Parish Council.

Both organisations felt the development was not in keeping with the surrounding area, while the CPRE was also concerned about a potential negative impact on the castle.

Planning officers recommended the scheme for approval.

A report to members said: “It is considered that the proposal will retain the character of the former walled garden and will not harm the significance of Walworth Castle.”

Members voted in line with officers’ recommendations and approved the application, subject to a number of conditions, including that the lodge be used only for holiday accommodation.

An application for listed building consent to create vehicle access was also approved.