New leisure scheme is proposed

The plans for Rothbury.
The plans for Rothbury.

Proposals to create a holiday and recreation facility in Coquetdale, which would create up to 20 jobs, have been drawn up.

Callaly Leisure Ltd is behind the scheme for the Auction Rooms and former cattle market, on Station Road, Rothbury.

The plan, which is currently at the pre-application stage, aims to turn the Auction Rooms into a bistro/café reception, administration offices and toilets.

The proposal also includes the former cattle market land to accommodate holiday touring units, such as caravans, motorhomes and tents.

If permission is granted, a road would be constructed to connect the site to the existing Riverside Caravan Park, which is owned by the applicants.

Callaly Leisure says that there will be numerous employment opportunities if the scheme went ahead.

The administration of all Callaly Leisure Ltd’s activities will be centred on-site and, in total, 15 to 20 jobs will be created.

The firm states that local contractors will have the benefit of bidding for the construction work and ongoing service contracts.

The company adds that the facility will attract additional visitors to the area, who will bring ‘much-needed spending’ into Rothbury and nearby communities.

The pre-application planning statement says that the Auction Rooms are primarily used four times a year for household auctions. Each event includes three days of viewing and one day of auctioning, and has 500 to 600 visitors each day. In 2003, the cattle market ceased to trade due to the effects of the foot-and-mouth virus.

Although it is early days, Rothbury County Councillor Steven Bridgett has already written a letter of support and said that the scheme could add an extra string to the area’s bow.

He said: “I think this proposed development has the potential to become another great asset for tourism in the Coquet Valley.

“Not only does it offer something currently unavailable to those wanting to visit our area, but it also comes with the potential of 15 to 20 new jobs for our local economy – which can only be a good thing.

“As the local councillor, I will do whatever I can to support this proposal and see that it comes to fruition.

“It is hoped the development will offer another string to Rothbury’s bow, better utilising a site that has been relatively underused since the foot-and-mouth virus hit us back in 2001.”

The pre-application statement says that Riverside Caravan Park has permission for the siting of static holiday caravans, but it is not yet fully developed. It states that the existing access is through an industrial estate where cars, tractors, lorries and vans park, obstructing the entrance.

The statement adds that ‘often during the year, visitors with touring caravans or tents ask to stay on Riverside Caravan Park, but have to be turned away as there are no facilities for them’.

As part of the scheme, new footpaths would be created, the access road from Station Road to the main building would be improved, the former slaughterhouse would be demolished for the reception car park and the holiday touring caravan and camping park would be developed ‘to the highest standards’.