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Belford Parish Council: War memorial and housing/campsite plans

Belford war memorial
Belford war memorial

Councillors in Belford have agreed to take on the village’s war memorial, although how this is to be done still needs to be clarified.

The monument is located in the grounds of/to the front of the war memorial hall, which used to house the community club, that has been closed since November 2016 after unsuccessful attempts to save it.

The trustees of the hall subsequently put the building up for sale and a buyer has been found, Robert Grebby, subject to the granting of planning permission to convert the property into a home.

The war memorial and the adjacent garden were included as part of the sale, but it is understood that Mr Grebby is happy to hand it over to the village to protect the cenotaph for future generations.

At last Thursday’s meeting of Belford Parish Council, the chairman, Coun Brenda Stanton, reported that the trustees have said they are going to remove the memorial from the sale particulars and are quite happy to sell it to the parish council for a nominal amount, with the trust also offering to cover any legal fees required for this transfer.

But Kerry Noble, part of the group which is responsible for looking after the war memorial, said that it belongs to the village anyway and the parish council should simply adopt it as soon as possible rather than waiting for the sale to go through.

He added that when he first started to look into it, he was told that the trustees had nothing to do with it and did not own the land.

For his part, parish and county councillor, Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, said there was some initial confusion about land ownership, but the trustees had now agreed to hand over the memorial and the garden on the day of the sale.

Nonetheless, the parish council has agreed to take it on, once the exact details are ironed out. Coun Stanton said: “It seems to me the parish council is the best body to look after it, but we need to be aware of our responsibilities.”

• Councillors have concerns about proposals for nine new houses as well as a 14-unit camping/caravan site in the centre of Belford.

The application is for land behind the Blue Bell Hotel, which lies in the village’s conservation area, and there was a general feeling that the site, which is on a significant slope, is not suitable, even if there are no issues with the type of mixed development.

Chairman, Coun Brenda Stanton, said: “I’m not necessarily objecting, it’s just a hodge-podge.

“I’m not sure it’s an appropriate site for a hodge-podge. If it was all going to be pods or it was all going to be houses, I would not have a problem with it.

“I’m a bit unhappy because it’s in the historic centre and I think it would be visible from the churchyard.”

However, Coun Tracy Bell said: “I think we need to be careful that we are not saying no to holiday accommodation.

“I worry because Belford is becoming very popular with visitors.”

Coun Busher Keys said: “I don’t object to the plan, it’s just a totally inappropriate site.”

It was agreed to raise concerns about the site, the access and the negative visual impact on the conservation area.

Members also asked for the plans to go to committee.

• A sign-maker who is now based in Belford is to be contacted as the council progresses plans to install three maps of the village highlighting businesses and points of interest. Members also discussed electronic notice-boards like those in Berwick.

• Adderstone and Lucker will not be joining the Belford Neighbourhood Plan, because of the limited time left for Belford to spend the funding it was awarded. Adding another parish to the plan area would require further consultation and would delay things too much. Members also agreed the first payment of £1,695 to the consultant.