I READ regularly in the Press of cases where the planning process has not been afforded the respect it deserves and it has caused me to contrast such cases with the planning applications submitted by The Society for three houses on Harbour Road in Beadnell.
The Society own Beadnell Harbour. It is a private asset which was gifted to the fishing families of Beadnell in 1951 by Sir John Craster and they have maintained it as a fishing port to this date and have funded its upkeep.
Four years ago, The Society acknowledged that its funds were almost exhausted and new money had to be raised to secure the long term future of the harbour and preserve it as a heritage asset at the heart of the community of Beadnell and an essential tourist attraction which underpins the local economy.
Continuous dialogue was maintained with the planning department over a three year period and extensive consultations were undertaken with every concerned department of Northumberland County Council.
Applications by the public for six rights of way, a listed building, a scheduled monument and two village greens have been processed and defended and, where appropriate, conceded.
Listed buildings are being enhanced and protected and concerns on beach access have been recognised.
A sustained and aggressive press campaign against development has been dealt with in a courteous and fair manner. If you Google “Beadnell Harbour” today there are 1,130 hits.
They don’t all concern our development but the first eight pages are mainly about our proposal for three houses in Beadnell – in a village where nearly 200 new houses have been approved in the last few years and just as many more are no doubt on the way .
There have been 35 articles in the Northumberland Gazette and Berwick Advertiser alone on this subject.
The Society has been interviewed by the Journal, the Chronicle, the Sunday Sun, Business Quarterly, BBC TV and Radio and ITV News At Ten.
There are web site references on Trawler Pictures, Great British Life, Highbeam, Business Week, Unequal Design, Skyscraper City, Share crazy, Entrepreneur, Florida Today, Silo breaker and Build It magazine.
A petition was elicited from casual visitors to Beadnell who had no idea what they were signing up to and what the real issues were.
And only then, in July 2010, did we actually submit our planning applications.
If ever there was full and proper consultation in advance of an application, this has to be the definitive case study.
A high-quality design has been submitted to create a badly-needed new gateway to the village, which is the planning brief we were given at the outset.
Contrary to anything suggested by those opposing these applications, the fishing families care deeply about their village and their heritage and do not stand to benefit personally from any value unlocked from the planning process. All of the proceeds from the sale of land with planning consent will be committed to maintaining and protecting Beadnell Harbour.
The financial enabling argument which demonstrates this commitment has been dissected and approved by the most senior person in the county’s finance department.
The Section 106 agreement to ringfence the funds and protect the harbour, if planning is granted, has been drafted by the Society and approved by the council’s legal advisers.
The real issue which we have addressed and where we have contractual agreements to deliver our proposals is how to protect the harbour and not wishful thinking by a pressure group which has no financial substance behind its proposals and no chance of success.
And finally, the planning officers have concluded after the most extensive consultation possible and unprecedented public comment to recommend these applications for approval.
I can only hope that this diligence and professionalism is recognised and that the integrity of the planning process is respected.
Secretary, Beadnell Harbour Fishermens Society.