Plans for a new coastguard rescue station on the north Northumberland station have been submitted, ending a long wait for new facilities.
An original application for the radically upgraded base at Windyside Hill, near Craster, was approved by the county council in 2010, when a plot of land was gifted by Lord Howick to the volunteer-run rescue service.
Set to be called Howick Coastguard Rescue Station, it will drastically improve the efficiency of emergency cover for the sector, by replacing the existing facilities at Craster and Boulmer, which are no longer fit-for-purpose and don’t even have basic amenities such as toilets or changing areas.
Crews also currently have to race between stations to gather equipment – as neither is big enough to store everything required – before heading out on searches or rescues, wasting valuable time and potentially leaving lives at risk.
As reported in the Gazette at the end of last year, there was also a dispute between Northern Powergrid and neighbouring tenants, represented by land agent George F White, over compensation levels for the disruption caused by the proposed laying of underground supply cables.
But now, the plans have been resubmitted to Northumberland County Council and will override the existing permission due to due to ‘development issues associated with positioning of the new station’.
A single-storey, timber-framed building currently occupies the site, which is used by Craster Rovers Football Club as a changing facility.
The club’s pitch and changing rooms would be moved to an adjacent location.
The project will consist of the construction of a single-storey structure for use as a coastguard rescue station.
The accommodation comprises of a double-width garage, training room, kitchen, shower, toilet and dry store.
All facilities within the building are to be provided at ground floor-level only.
A design and access statement submitted as part of the application explains that the Boulmer and Craster teams are being moved into one building as both of their stations are estimated to be more than 100 years.
It also adds that the Marine nd Coastguard Agency ‘has been undertaking a search for suitable leased accommodation within the vicinity for several years but without success’.
A location easily accessible by the volunteers who make up the teams was ‘considered to be the main priority for any replacement facility’.