A1 crusaders welcome plan block

CAMPAIGNERS pushing for the dualling of the A1 in Northumberland have welcomed the rejection of a development which may have scuppered attempts to expand the road.

A planning application for a holiday park on land to the west of the A1 and east of Burgham Park Golf Club, which would sit on the preferred ‘green’ route of a dualled A1, was turned down last week by Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, campaign director for the Dual the Al campaign, said: “The Dual the A1 campaign objected formally to the planning application and I was pleased that our lobbying of councillors to protect the route was effective.

“I will be meeting the roads minister in two weeks’ time and continuing to press for the next stage of investment by the Department for Transport, namely to get an up-to-date business case review done, which would include evidence from the campaign’s ongoing work with businesses on the impact of a dualled road.”

Coun Glen Sanderson, who spoke against the plans at the meeting as the local ward member, welcomed the support the dualling campaign received from the members of the planning committee, describing some as ‘real champions of the people’.

“I was very impressed by the really solid support from members for all the work that has been done on the A1 by the campaigners over the years,” he said. “It really would be the beginning of the end if that line was extinguished.

“It would be a huge disappointment, an absolutely massive disappointment, for everyone that lives, works or travels in Northumberland, for people who have businesses in Northumberland or people who come on holiday here.

“It would affect hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people, that’s why it was a crucial decision.

“That’s why I think we will stand firm as long as we have breath in our bodies.”

He also said that the decision will underline how important a dualled A1 is for Northumberland.

“This will send a clear message to London and to the ministers,” he said.

“This will come as a big message to them as to just how strongly we feel about this.

“Doubtless the Highways Agency and the campaigners will be taking this message back as well.”

The Highways Agency, which is responsible for the A1, did not object to the scheme as the A1 dualling is not in line for funding in the period up to 2016. This meant that the county council’s highways department could not sustain its objection.

Members rejected the scheme based on several issues including road safety, but the decision could be appealed.

At last week’s meeting, Coun David Moore asked whether the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published by the Government at the end of March, allowed for strategic views on issues such as economic prosperity to be considered as part of planning applications.

But the county council’s north area development manager Peter Rutherford said: “One of the difficulties we continue to have is that we don’t have an up-to-date development plan for the county.”

However, this week, the council’s executive did agree to launch a consultation on the Northumberland Local Development Framework Core Strategy, which would replace a raft of former planning documents from the former borough and district councils.