Coastal shelter scheme rejected by councillors

The site of the proposed earth shelter in Beadnell. Ref: JCNG 240614site 2
The site of the proposed earth shelter in Beadnell. Ref: JCNG 240614site 2

Controversial plans to build a new house into the bank on the north Northumberland coast have been thrown out by councillors.

Sukie and Richard Ranken wanted to build a three-bedroomed ‘earth shelter’ adjacent to 15 Harbour Road in Beadnell, the site of a former World War Two air raid shelter, but they faced major opposition in the village.

Addressing last week’s meeting of the county council’s north area planning committee, Sukie Ranken said: “We have carefully considered the type of building we would build there. We sought advice and developed the concept of the earth shelter which was sympathetic to the area.”

But James Norris, of the Save Beadnell Association, insisted the application was ‘entirely inappropriate’ for its location.

He warned the committee: “The north Northumberland coastline is of major importance to the local economy and we interfere with it at our cost.”

Beadnell Parish Council had received 36 letters of objection to the scheme.

Parish councillor Deborah Baker said: “Beadnell has a beautiful coastal strip that is enjoyed by everyone, and we want to protect our coastline from any further development.”

Norham and Islandshires Coun Dougie Watkin, one of two members who voted to approve the scheme, said: “I think it’s a good design, designed in full knowledge of its slightly precarious position on the coast.”

But Councillor Anthony Murray, from Wooler, disagreed, saying it was ‘vital’ to protect the coastline.

“Visitors don’t come to look at innovative developments, they come to look out to the North Sea,” he said.

Local ward member Coun John Woodman felt that the plan, which claimed to have ‘minimal impact’ on its environment, in fact had an ‘inciteful impact’ on the coastline. “If something is to be approved in that area it has to be truly exceptional, and this isn’t,” he said.

“If we allow this to go ahead it is setting a precedent – we have got to protect this coastline,” said Coun Isabel Hunter.