Artists' retreat bid back after councillors' site visit

The location of Link End Caravan Park at Alnmouth. Picture from GoogleThe location of Link End Caravan Park at Alnmouth. Picture from Google
The location of Link End Caravan Park at Alnmouth. Picture from Google
A decision is due on a year-round artists’ retreat on the north Northumberland coast later this week, after councillors decided to take a closer look.

The proposals at Alnmouth, which have divided opinion, were first discussed at last month’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council, but after a number of different options were discussed, members voted to defer it so they could go on a site visit and seek clarity on several issues.

The scheme, for a site nestled between the village’s two golf clubs, is once again recommended for approval when it goes before the committee on Thursday (March 21) afternoon.

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Back in June 2016, permission was granted for the continued use of the former Link End Caravan Park, for up to five caravans between May and October. Rather than a planning application, it was a certificate of lawfulness bid which sought to establish an existing use of the land.

A planning application for six mobile shepherds’ huts on the site had previously been submitted in November the previous year, but withdrawn in February 2016, with both proposals attracting significant objections.

Now, applicant Mr Maloney wants to change the use of the land in order to allow five glamping pods to be used all through the year.

As operator of the successful Old School Art Gallery and café in the village, he is seeking to expand and diversify that business by the addition of the camping pods, which are to be marketed as an artists’ retreat.

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Issues raised by objectors include the access and parking arrangements, and the potential impacts on the environment, the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and the golf club.

Meanwhile, supporters point to positives such as the economic benefits, the additional footfall to an area that traditionally struggles during winter months and the innovative use of a site which had become an eyesore and a target for low-level antisocial behaviour.

Some of the councillors were concerned that, as yet, there was no evidence as to what the impacts would be, which is why a 12-month approval was mooted at last month’s meeting.

But Coun Jeff Watson, the only member to vote against the deferral, pointed out that there were no objections from the AONB, the ecologist or the public rights of way team and that it would be ‘against common fairness’ to impose a time limit on the permission.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service