‘THE best kept secret in Clayton-le-Moors’ will remain open to the public.

The owners of Clayton Hall, off Clayton Hall Drive, had sought permission from the council to prevent the public from accessing a museum there, as well as an historic Grade II listed ice house, car park, and picnic area.

But the planning committee rejected officers’ recommendations and said the museum must remain open.

When planning permission was granted to rebuild the hall in the 1990s, on the site of two buildings dating to the 1300s, the council stipulated those areas must be open to the public from 2pm to 6pm or sunset at weekends and from noon until 3pm at least two weekdays a week.

The museum contains artefacts relating to the hall’s history.

Documents with the council said: “There were only a few visitors to the museum when it opened and, since then, there have never been any visitors or enquiries.

“Realistically, the museum has not operated as such for more than 20 years.

“Since the development was completed and the museum created, there have been only two visitors.”

Councillor Judith Addison said: “I never knew there was a museum and if I had, I would have gone to visit it.

“If museums are not advertised, how will people know to visit?”

Chief planning officer Simon Prideaux said planning conditions were highly unusual and wouldn’t be implemented today.

Mr Prideaux said: “The owners would like to use it as part of their dwelling. It’s not a facility accessible to the public, it’s in private grounds. We feel it’s reasonable for the museum element (of the planning conditions) to be discharged.”

Councillor Bernard Dawson, said: “I can understand why they want to do it. I have never heard of a museum down there.

“It’s the best kept secret in Clayton.”

Nobody at Clayton Hall could be reached for comment.