RESIDENTS have called for action to rid their County Durham village of an eyesore building which they say is plagued with antisocial behaviour and rats.

Disused pub The Station, in St Helen Auckland, and two adjoining houses have been empty and falling into a state of dilapidation for about a decade.

Residents have complained that the boarded-up properties are not just a monstrosity, next to the main road through the village, but that they also attract vandals and arsonists who have started rubbish fires nearby.

Neighbours have also reported seeing rats around the building and fear it will be structurally unsound, particularly after the recent storms.

Read more: County Durham family shocked & frightened after arsonists torch beloved caravan yards from home

A petition calling on Durham County Council to buy the site from the private owner so it can be redeveloped has been signed by almost 500 people.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Durham County Councillor for West Auckland Rob Yorke has long campaigned for action to tidy up the site and is again urging the council’s leaders to step in.

The authority told The Northern Echo that there are plans to refurbish that pub and the former Queen's Head, just down the road.

Cllr Yorke said: “We started getting complaints about seven or eight years ago and the council spent a lot of time tracking down the owner and had an agreement to buy it with a view to putting bungalows on the land but then it was sold on to another private owner.

“For about two years the council has been talking to the new owner who had plans to refurbish it, during all this time it is getting into a worse state, rubbish is dumped here, the doors kicked in, it is a nuisance for the community and an eyesore on the main thoroughfare.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

“We are now asking the council to CPO it, or get an agreement with the owner to buy it or set a timeframe to develop it and sort it out once and for all.”

Robert and Irene Hartley, who have lived in nearby North Bridge Park for 16 years, have watched in horror as it became a worsening blot on the landscape.

Mr Hartley said: “Something needs doing with it, it is a huge monstrosity on our doorstep but also right where new paths celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway are going to created.

“It isn’t even secure, if a child got in there and they were injured heaven help us, and I really fear it isn’t structurally sound.”

Neighbour Robert Treby said: “As soon as it is boarded-up, the next day the boards are kicked in.

“There is so much trouble there.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Maureen Woods, who lives behind the property, said: “It is horrendous, kids cause trouble there, there are rats running around it and it is such an eyesore in the village.”

West Auckland Parish Council regularly finds itself discussing the old pub, despite it being just outside its boundary.

Chairman George Smith said: “We regularly get complaints about it, it is a thorn in our side and for the people who have to live near it.

“If it could be sorted out we could move on and talk about more important things.

“We ask the county council to be proactive and sort it out for the community and to stop wasting taxpayers money, as the police are regularly called out to it.”

Graham Wood, economic development manager at Durham County Council, said: “We have been in discussion with the owner of The Station pub for some time, as well as the nearby Queen’s Head pub which is also empty.

“Plans to refurbish The Station are now progressing, and we have received an application to convert the Queen’s Head into three homes.

"In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the condition and safety of both premises, while also exploring options for the two long term empty homes in this location.

“We understand the issues empty properties can cause and are committed to working with owners and local communities to bring them back into use as part of our Towns and Villages programme.”


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