Residents of three north Northumberland villages turned out in force last week to have their say on the future of their communities.
In October last year, the Gazette reported that the coastal parishes of Bamburgh, Beadnell and Seahouses were uniting to create a neighbourhood plan for the area as it was felt that the three villages shared common goals and concerns.
Neighbourhood plans, brought in under the Government’s Localism Act, are the local level of the new planning system.
If accepted, they form part of development control along with the county council’s core strategy and the National Planning Policy Framework.
And last Tuesday, a successful launch meeting was held in Seahouses, followed by drop-in events in all three villages to allow residents to share their views.
More than 200 people – about 10 per cent of the residents of the three villages – attended at least one of these events.
There was a series of displays of information about the area and the neighbourhood-planning process, followed by an opportunity for people to give feedback on what they liked and what could be improved about the area which will be used to set the main themes for the plan.
And it perhaps comes as no surprise that one of the key issues raised by the communities was the need for affordable homes and the levels of second/holiday properties.
Figures provided at the event revealed that while the average house price in the county in December 2013 was £168,799, in Seahouses it was £196,232, in Beadnell £230,740 and in Bamburgh £326,284.
As well as general comments about development in the villages, attendees were also encouraged to use maps to mark where development should or shouldn’t happen in the three villages.
Jude Aldred, chairman of Bamburgh Parish Council, said: “It is both encouraging and heartening to see the three parish councils of Beadnell, North Sunderland and Bamburgh working together as a team for the benefit of the coastal area as a whole.”
County councillor John Woodman, who is ward member for all three parishes, said: “I’m pleased so many people showed an interest in shaping the future of the villages.”
“The pressures of too many large-scale developments of second homes on the community are becoming clear, and people want to see us try to change that in the future.
“Our next steps are to start work on the main themes and to speak to the business community to get their views.”