Owner is hoping for bright future for collapsed fire-hit hotel

Site of the former Harbour View Hotel in Seaham

Site of the former Harbour View Hotel in Seaham

The owner of a fire-hit hotel that dramatically collapsed at the weekend says he will press ahead with his future plans for the site.

David Gill had already contracted builders in to demolish the Harbour View Hotel in North Terrace, Seaham after being given the green light from council chiefs.

There wasn’t anything anyone could have done or foreseenDavid Gill

The businessman had taken over the Grade One-listed property in October and had been going through the planning process so he could knock it down to rebuild it.

However, onlookers watched in horror as the entire front of the building collapsed onto the pavement on Saturday at around 10.50am. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Mr Gill said: “When we took over the building it was in such a state there was nothing that could be done but to demolish it. But we had to go through the planning process before we could do anything.

“We employed a contracting company as soon as we were given permission. But because it was so unstable they weren’t able to go inside or bring in machines until it was made safe.

“They have been demolishing it by hand and had been due to return to work on Tuesday.

“But with the rain on Friday night, it got into the timber and collapsed.

“There wasn’t anything anyone could have done or foreseen to stop this from happening.”

The police had been alerted to the collapse of the building while crews from Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service were called into make it safe ahead of the arrival of the demolition company.

Mr Gill said he is now looking to the future and has plans of what he would like the property, which he aims to turn into a bar/grill restaurant, to look like once it is rebuilt.

He added: “I have already decided on changing the name as I think the Harbour View has a bit of a bad reputation to it. I’ve asked the views of a lot of people including my customers on this and it’s been decided it is going to be called The Lord Seaham. We’ve looked at the history of the building and it is what it was called in the 18th century.

“This area is an up and coming area and has a lovely community feel to it. It’s nice to bring new businesses and new things to the area to encourage more people to visit.”

Workmen are expected back on the site on Tuesday to carry on with the demolition of the building.

A spokesman for DP Contractors, who have been carrying out demolition work at the site, said: “The dangerous parts of the building have been removed and the demolition will progress, The building has been evaluated and is safe. Work will begin again on Tuesday.