Amble Harbour Village retail pods could inspire similar scheme in Northumberland seaside village
The possible introduction of retail pods similar to those at Amble harbour is being explored in another Northumberland coastal village.
Craster Parish Council is investigating the possibilities of developing an area near the main car park to improve the retail choice to visitors and residents.
Cllr Mark Green, who made the suggestion, explained: “There is sufficient space to the right of Piper’s Pitch in the area opposite the tourist information centre to have some small business huts.
"The inspiration for me is the Harbour Village at Amble where there are some wooden units which allow small businesses to be started by people who live locally.
"The suggestion isn’t to create a food village and put Andy (Grant) at the Piper’s Pitch out of business but to have some complementary businesses, perhaps someone with a craft activity they’re interested in or someone who attends farmers’ markets and wants a permanent base for their business.
"Andy has done amazing work to establish his business and the last thing we want is to jeopardise that. I think we just have to assess it as people apply on whether it is appropriate or not. We would really be looking for businesses that support and enhance the current offering.”
He said the next step would be to approach Northumberland County Council as landowner.
The parish council could potentially lease the land, erect the huts and then grant licences to businesses, receiving rent in return.
He thought there was enough space for three units.
"You do need some infrastructure,” he continued. “The ones in Amble all have electrical hook-ups so that’s where proximity to the supply at the tourist information centre becomes relevant and they also have access to a water tank and some toilets which are obviously issues we would have to discuss with the council.
He admitted there had been mixed feedback from local residents.
"I am conscious that certainly within Craster there is a bit of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’,” he said.
“But my view is that we’ve got all these tourists wandering around the village whatever we do. We’re going to have a deluge this summer. My view is that most tourists wander around with £10 in their pocket to spend on something and at the moment it all goes to a very small number of businesses.
"If we could create some new businesses and support some people within the community by creating new jobs by going for that tourist market then all the better. It would also be great if some of them sold things that we as residents want as well. It would be lovely to have a few more small shops to potter around.”
Cllr Elizabeth Pearson urged caution in adding extra huts to an area with a new road layout.
Local resident Fyona Robson added: “Many visitors come to this village because of how it is. It’s not like Amble, it’s not like Seahouses and I think if we start to go down this route of changing we are not giving a lot of visitors what they want and what makes this village attractive.”
Cllr Green will take the idea to the county council and feed back to a future meeting before the parish council decides whether to take if further and consult with residents.