Bamburgh café applicant admits retrospective planning bid was 'wrong route to go down'

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The company behind controversial plans for a new café and bar in Bamburgh has admitted mistakes in the way it has handled the application.

BOX Restaurant Group has started work to transform the village’s walled garden and installed three shipping containers which would house the café and bar.

However, the retrospective nature of the application has attracted criticism from the local community and Bamburgh Parish Council.

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David Kunzer, a director of the Newcastle-based firm, said: “From the outset we engaged a planning consultant and we were given two options.

The shipping containers are visible over the top of the walled garden in Bamburgh.The shipping containers are visible over the top of the walled garden in Bamburgh.
The shipping containers are visible over the top of the walled garden in Bamburgh.

“One was to apply retrospectively and one to do a current application and we decided to go down the former route.

“We had hoped if we went down the retrospective route, starting the construction, it would have been ready for the 2020 season. Unfortunately with Covid-19 that hasn’t been possible.

“With hindsight we put our hands up and say it was the wrong route to go down.”

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At an online parish council planning meeting, he revealed that the company hope to set up six or seven restaurants and casual dining areas in the next two to three years around Northumberland.

The Bamburgh scheme, if approved, would create six full-time and 10 part-time positions.

“The walled garden in Bamburgh is a fantastic, Grade II listed 17th century garden,” he said. “We would like to restore the garden to its former glory as it’s been left vacant for quite a few years.

“We want to make a special meeting place for all generations, safe and secure, with minimal impact on the surrounding area.”

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A petition opposing the scheme has also been signed by over 70 residents and sent to Northumberland County Council.

Dr Philip Haslam, who owns a property on Lucker Road, said: “My main point is that this is a retrospective development.

“All these containers have been plonked there during lockdown and the timing is very cynical. This is very much a fait accomplis. They have presented this and just hope they get away with it which I am pretty horrified by.

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“The whole thing is unnecessary, ill-conceived and out of character. There has been no regard for the local population and the businesses of Bamburgh.”

Local resident Michael Gibson added: “The brazen, unashamed admission that you went for a retrospective planning approach is absolutely diabolical.

“If I wanted to do a development in my garden in Bamburgh I would have to dig a trench and get archaeological permission. You have run roughshod over the feelings of the people of the village and the application has more holes in than Swiss cheese.”

Bamburgh Parish Council has submitted a formal objection, noting the application’s lack of reference to the North Northumberland Coast neighbourhood plan.

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Chairman Barbara Brook labelled it the most controversial planning application she could remember while vice chairman Andy Bardgett said it was an ‘absolute shambles’.

A final decision will be taken by the county council.

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