Proposals for a new Visitor Centre at North East Autism Centre’s New Warlands Farm Site

Welcome to the public consultation page for the exciting proposals for the development of a new visitor centre at the North East Autism Society’s (NEAS) existing site at New Warlands Farm, Edmondsley, Durham.

Site Description

The Site measures approximately 0.95 ha (2.34 acres) and it is located approximately 500 metres to the south of the village of Holmside in County Durham, between the larger villages of Burnhope and Edmondsley. Durham City Centre is approximately 10.6 km from the site which is equivalent to a 15-minute drive.

The site is currently in mixed-use with agricultural use on the eastern parcel and educational facilities occupied by North East Autism Society (NEAS) on the western parcel. Adjacent to the south of the site are some residential dwellings. While to the west and north-west, the site is bounded by agricultural land. Further to the north, ancient woodland can be found.


The North East Autism Society (NEAS) was founded in 1980 by a group of parents who came together to establish Thornhill Park School in Sunderland, the North East Autism Society grew out of a desire to provide a better standard of education for autistic children. Having re-mortgaged their homes to purchase the building, the founders were dedicated to helping autistic young people fulfil their potential – and that commitment remains at the heart of everything the Society does.

New Warlands Farm is based at Burnhope near Durham and offers a diverse range of personalised programmes. The purpose of these programmes is to offer lifelong learning opportunities in vocational, occupational and a social context. These include functioning life skills where individuals are supported and empowered and can participate in a range of programmes areas and social activities including:

  • Woodwork
  • Textiles
  • IT
  • Horticulture
  • Therapy
  • Leisure
  • Accessing the Community
  • Card Making
  • Sensory

Proposed Development

By expanding the existing services at New Warlands Farm, NEAS will be able to offer meaningful employment and training opportunities to autistic and neurodivergent individuals, as well as enriching the local community by providing a new visitors destination.

The development will be rolled out over three phases and a two-year period, with the result being a welcoming space that not only serves to improve the lives of autistic individuals by helping them on their journey to employment, but also a venue that attracts the community and showcases local produce by providing commercial spaces.

Phase one will be the planning and demolition stages of the process, with work needed to deconstruct some of the existing outbuildings on site at the farm to make way for the new development.

Phase two will see the construction and completion of our cider press and café, both of which will be open to the public and will provide young people and adults with the opportunity to develop new vocational skills in a real-life working environment.

Phase three will focus on the construction of a new barn, which will house workshop spaces for our young people and adults to use, as well as spaces that can be leased out and used by local businesses to house and sell their products.

The proposed plans are included below.

Providing Feedback 

We would welcome your thoughts on the proposals ahead of submission of the planning application.

An in-person consultation event will take place at New Warlands Farm Training Centre, Holmside Lane, Burnhope, Durham DH7 6EX on Thursday 14th July 2022 between 6.30PM and 8PM, where members of the NEAS and the development team will be available to talk you through the proposed plans and answer any specific questions you might have.

If you are unable to make it to the event, please review the plans below and use the feedback form below to submit any comments or queries. Alternatively, comments can be emailed to or posted to:

DPP, Studio 012, Haylofts, St Thomas’ Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LE.

Please submit your comments by Thursday 28th July 2022.

Please be aware that comments left on any public consultation exercise, either by email or any other means, are subject to the terms of our Privacy Policy. Please read this policy carefully as by submitting the information you are consenting to our use of your personal data in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

Your personal data will be retained on our secure database and will not be passed to our clients.

We may also like to contact you to keep you informed about future developments relating to this consultation. You will be able to opt-out of these communications at any time.

Location Plan

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Existing Site Plan

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Proposed Layout

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Proposed Site Plan

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