A 140-YEAR-OLD rule will have to be overturned if plans for a luxury spa are to become a reality.
Bosses at Newcastle’s Jesmond Dene House plan to transform the property’s disused stables into a multi-million pound leisure facility, complete with a swimming pool, cafe and treatment rooms.
However, an 1871 covenant restricting what the land can be used for could put a stop to the project.
The covenant was made between Sir William Armstrong and his business partner Andrew Noble.
The document states the land “shall not be used as a tea garden or public house or place of public entertainment or as a manufactory of an offensive nature”.
Now Newcastle City Council has applied to have the restriction lifted.
Council lawyers have argued the covenant would impede the use of the land as a spa facility.
The site, used as police stables for a number of years, is currently in a state of disrepair.
Although local residents have welcomed news the building will be renovated, concern has been raised over the removal of the historic covenant.
Robert Wooster, of the Friends of Jesmond Dene, said: “This application is asking for the covenant to be lifted to allow a redevelopment of the old police stables in the grounds of Jesmond Dene House.
“We’ve no problem with the development but we’re worried that if this covenant is lifted, it could lead the way for other planning applications. We wonder whether it is really necessary to remove the covenant.
“We’ve lodged our objections and will now wait to see what happens.”
Newcastle City Council has made an application seeking the discharge of the restriction arguing that it ought to be deemed obsolete.
The application, made under section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925 to discharge or modify a restrictive covenant, has been made to the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal, in London, where a judge will now consider the evidence.
Jesmond Dene House was built in 1822 by renowned architect John Dobson.
It was purchased by Captain Andrew Noble, who was later knighted, in 1871, on the advice of Lord Armstrong.
The former lodge and stables stand to the west of the entrance to Jesmond Dene House. A council spokesman said: “The council has negotiated the sale of the former police stables in Jesmond Dene, which it currently owns, with a view to their conversion to a Spa facility. This would allow these derelict buildings to be brought back into use.
“The council is also processing an application to allow the removal of historic restrictive covenants relating to the property. These restrictions, dating back to 1871, are no longer relevant and would impede the potential development of the building, especially for leisure use.
“After completing the necessary consultations this request has been passed to the Land Tribunal for final approval.”