Controversial plans for new housing in a north Northumberland village with an extremely high number of second homes look set to get the go-ahead next week.
But the section 106 legal agreement for the outline application for 45 homes on land south of Kennedy Green in Beadnell will mean that all of the new properties would be secured for occupation by permanent residents.
The scheme has still been heavily opposed, sparking almost 200 objections and no letters of support. Beadnell Parish Council has also submitted extensive objections.
The development would comprise 13 two-bedroom homes, 23 three-bedroom dwellings and nine four-bedroom units.
Seven of the two-bed and two of the three-bed properties would be affordable homes – a 20 per cent provision on site.
A new access road would join from Swinhoe Road about 320 metres to the west of the site.
The proposed site is within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and the planning officer’s report explains that ‘planning permission should be refused for major developments in such areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest’.
Given the scale of second and holiday-home ownership in Beadnell, it is the proposed restriction of the properties as permanent residences which means the development would meet this exceptional circumstances test.
This is only after it was agreed that this would apply to all of the new houses and in perpetuity.
Figures in the report show that at the 2011 census, 55.3 per cent (388) of household spaces had no usual residents – the highest in the county.
In April this year, 51.3 per cent (298) of dwellings registered for council tax were identified as second homes, while in July, 175 dwellings were registered as a holiday let for business tax purposes.
Again, both of these are the highest number of any parish in Northumberland.
The then recently-amended proposed section 106 agreement that would have meant the properties could only sell to permanent residents for the first 12 months was discussed at a public meeting in the village in October.
Campaigner Andy Brown, who has set up www.beadnellunderthreat.com, and others felt that with this time limit, it would have little impact.
Mr Brown explained that of the 45, nine would be social or affordable homes and may go to locals, while another four are two-bedroom properties which may be purchased by people retiring to the village. That left 32 three and four-bedroom homes which most likely won’t sell to families because of the lack of jobs, school and infrastructure.
“It will not work for the benefit of Beadnell,” he said. “We must lodge as many objections as possible.”
Since then, two of the four-bedroom homes have been replaced by two-bedroom properties. This, coupled with the fact that the section 106 will now mean the homes have to be permanent residences in perpetuity, are improvements.
However, there were a number of other issues discussed at the meeting, with the strain on the sewerage and other utilities and the pressures of tourism and visitors on the roads and the car park – all of which already exist – among the key concerns.
Opening the meeting, organiser Carol Field said: “We don’t want (more houses), we don’t need them and there’s no economic justification for them.
“Everyone in the room can do something to defeat this. We are only at the outline stage now. We have the opportunity to stop this even starting.”
Mr Brown added that the aim was to persuade planning officer Neil Armstrong to recommend refusal to the committee members. “If there’s a recommendation for acceptance then we are probably shot beneath the water-line.”
But the recommendation is for approval and the outline application looks set to get the green light at Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.
As well as the affordable housing and the occupancy restriction, other requirements of the approval would be £25,000 and provision of signage for ecological mitigation plus £5,500 to extend the 30mph limit westwards on Swinhoe Road.