Plans to turn former wedding venue Longhirst Hall into private homes

Building's owners lodge planning application to convert it to 31 homes, reinstating the use for which it was built in the early 19th century

Longhirst Hall in Northumberland
Longhirst Hall in Northumberland

Plans have been lodged to turn a former hotel and wedding venue in Northumberland into private homes.

Longhirst Hall near Morpeth operated as a wedding venue until closing suddenly earlier this year when the operators went into liquidation.

Now the building’s owners have lodged a planning application to convert it to 31 homes, reinstating the use for which it was built by a renowned North East architect in the early 19th century.

The site was constructed by John Dobson for the Lawson family between 1824 and 1832 and served as a home, being requisitioned by the army in the Second World War.

Around 1948 then owners the Moore family sold it to the local authority which turned it into an approved school and later a community home for boys.

The property later became a hotel, wedding venue and conference centre. It has also been council offices and university halls of residence.

In March operator Hotel Lease (Number 3) Limited went into administration, resulting in the site’s sudden closure. Dozens of couples who had been booked in for weddings faced having to look elsewhere.

Now, building owners Felton Property and Investments Ltd has lodged plans with Northumberland County Council to convert the site into 27 apartments and four private dwellings.

Last night, Stephen Cowell from the company said: “Longhirst is regarded as one of Dobson’s finest buildings and it is magnificent and after careful thought we believe the only solution to being able to maintain it and sustain it is to have residential development.

“We have tried to market it for other uses, we tried hotel lease and things. We believe following discussions with the council that they share that view. It gives us an opportunity.”

Mr Cowell said some of the newer buildings at the site, those put up between 1992 and 1994, would be removed, but that the exterior of the original building will be untouched.

“It will make the original house stand on its own so much more.”

He is to brief Longhirst Parish Council about the plans at a meeting later this week and hopes members will be swayed by the promise of less traffic and noise than when the site was a hotel.

Mr Cowell added: “We hoped we would get the support from the village.”

Generations of the Moores had booked the venue for a family reunion prior to the hotel operator going into liquidation.

They were allowed into the closed building after making contact with Mr Cowell.

Margaret Moore, now O’Doherty, who was born and grew up in the building, said: “He has been telling us his plans. We are just delighted with what he is going to do with it.”

The planning application will be determined by the county council in due course.

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