Village development battle rumbles on

A BATTLE over development in a north Northumberland coastal village looks set to rear its head again next month.

Plans for three luxury homes at two sites in Beadnell were rejected by Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee in May, but objectors to the scheme, the Save Beadnell Association, want to prevent any further development by having the Haven and White Rock sites designated as village greens.

John Wall, secretary of Beadnell Harbour Fishermen’s Society, which was behind the rejected housing scheme, has previously criticised the applications for village green status as ‘cynical and inappropriate’ and a misuse of the legislation on former industrial areas for fishing.

But the public inquiry for the applications will begin on Monday, November 21.

Jim Norris, from the Save Beadnell Association, said: “Village green applications are currently under consideration with Northumberland County Council and offer the tantalising prospect of providing the basis for the necessary protection of disputed, neglected but heritage-rich coastline.

“This security would present the potential to utilise and improve these areas for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

“At the heart of this ancient and heritage-rich settlement lies a village coastline that must be preserved and entrusted for future generations.

“Village green status will provide for this and is essential if the designations ‘heritage coastline’ and ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’ are not just words on paper but moreover have a genuine, inviolable and recognisable credibility in the real and physical world of this beautiful part of rural Northumberland.”

The inquiry will take place at Seahouses Sports and Community Centre and is expected to run for six days, with the possibility of extending further if necessary.

The original application to build the homes was made by the Beadnell Harbour Fishermen’s Society in order to guarantee the survival of the harbour – this was the ‘exceptional case’ that ensured the application wasn’t rejected earlier as, according to the county council’s planning officer, ‘general residential development on the seaward side of Harbour Road would be unlikely to be supported’ without it.

Objectors always maintained that there were other ways of funding the harbour without resorting to building new houses.

The Save Beadnell Association has now produced a Beadnell Harbour Sustainability Plan, which they believe would permanently safeguard the harbour and the village coastline if implemented.

The group has also had discussions with the Seahouses Development Trust and ‘look forward to exploring various projects together including a Heritage Trail and highlighted points of interest in and around the village’, according to Mr Norris, which could include everything from Ebba’s Nook to the harbour.