Plans have been submitted to convert a pub in remote upper Teesdale into a home and holiday let.
Apart from a brief period, the Strathmore Arms at Holwick has been closed since March 2020.
Its owners say the business is no longer commercially viable due to its remote location and rising costs affecting the hospitality industry.
Proposals submitted to Durham County Council outline how it could be transformed into a residential dwelling, with a holiday let attached.
Documents from GAC Planning and Design supporting the application state: “At present, the site is vacant with no appetite for the operation of a commercial business. Therefore, maintaining the setting and building is limited and not financially feasible in the current configuration.
“The addition of a holiday let will allow occupiers of the dwelling to run a small sustainable tourism business, utilising the site’s location within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to provide high quality accommodation and access to the countryside.
“The addition of the holiday let will be of an appropriate scale and form in-keeping with the character of Holwick and will support the rural economy of Teesdale.”
A “viability statement” has been submitted as part of the application, which is said to demonstrate that: “The Strathmore Arms has proven, over a significant period, to be unviable as a business. This is despite a high-quality offering and dedicated efforts by competent operators as well as significant investment from the freehold owner in terms of business support and capital investment in the property.”
The planning documents state: “The premises has been marketed as a going concern since February 2020 with both a local and specialist agent working to find a new operator. The applicants have explored all offers as confirmed by the agents, but no firm offers have been made save for short lived tenancy in 2021 which resulted in the tenant handing the property back after approximately ten weeks.
“Of the 30 viewings of the property, only two were interested in retaining a leisure business. The feedback highlighted concerns relating to the remote location and the long-term viability of having a sustainable leisure business at this site.
“Between late 2020 and early 2021, the applicant engaged in constructive discussions with Holwick Parish Meeting to explore the possibility of there being any interest in a ‘community venture’ to re-open the business. The Parish Meeting canvassed local opinion, with the ultimate response being that a venture would not be possible due to the size of the operation and lack of financial viability.
“The remote location of the property precludes the ability to achieve a sustainable business in the leisure industry. The most recent operator’s accounts demonstrate this clearly and despite the active marketing of the premises, the lack of interest to take on the business coupled with the feedback further add to this conclusion.”
According to new analysis of official government data by real estate adviser Altus group, more than 32 pubs disappeared from communities in England and Wales each month in 2022 amid rocketing energy bills and staffing pressures.
The total number of pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and being offered to let, fell to 39,787 in December compared with 40,173 at the same point last year. Nevertheless, the number of pubs shutting their doors for good was 13.1 per cent lower than recorded in 2021, reflecting a more resilient year for UK pub-goers despite the turbulent economic backdrop.
The data also highlights the number of pubs which have disappeared from communities through either being demolished or converted for other use, such as homes or offices. A total of 2,663 pubs have vanished from cities, towns and villages over the past five years.