Victory as village mums win new play park battle despite objections

Sara Bell and Georgina Armstrong with some of the children who use the play area in Embleton.

Sara Bell and Georgina Armstrong with some of the children who use the play area in Embleton.

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A group of determined mums has secured planning permission for a new play park in their community, despite objections by council officers.

Georgina Armstrong, Susan Brewis and Alison Wilkin set up the Embleton Play Park Association back in 2006, to tackle concerns over a lack of facilities for children in the coastal village.

The first phase was opened in 2009 after a massive fund-raising effort, with a view to adding a multi-sport playing court and car park to the site off WT Stead Road.

A full application was submitted to Northumberland County Council in April, but objections were raised by the authority’s conservation officer and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team over the impact they felt it would have on its surroundings.

But at the council’s north area planning committee, held in Alnwick on Thursday, councillors disagreed and approved the scheme unanimously.

Coun Gordon Castle said: “Yes, the conservation officer’s views have to be taken into account, but there is an overriding case here.

“Children playing do not constitute a negative impact on a conservation area.”

Coun Trevor Thorn added: “Many of our larger rural villages have similar play parks that are very well used by local children. There are problems with public transport and we have to have facilities like this nearby for children to enjoy.”

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Armstrong said the application had been close to being approved by planning officers under delegated powers, but the objection meant it had to be heard at committee.

“This has been in the making for three years and it was disappointing to have an objection from the conservation officer at such a late stage” she said. “We have raised £85,000 in just two years to pay for the second phase and we’re delighted it will now go ahead.

“If it hadn’t been for the objection, we would have been on course to get the parking area in before the start of the summer holidays, but that isn’t possible now.

“The conservation officer’s concerns have delayed us by at least three months, but at least we can now make a start. The children of Embleton have been central to this development, telling us what they wanted in the new play area.

“We’re just delighted that we can now provide what they asked for.”

Mrs Wilkin added: “We’ve had enormous support from the community, local businesses and the parish council and we’re extremely grateful.

“This has been a real community effort from the very beginning.”

County councillor for Embleton, John Taylor – who declared an interest and took no part in the debate or vote –said: “I have supported this project through my member’s allowance and it will be well-used by local children.”