Proposals to put shepherds’ huts on a site nestled between two golf clubs on the north Northumberland coast are worrying villagers and golfers alike.
Concerns have been raised that the plans, for the former Link End Caravan Park in Alnmouth, could be damaging to a sensitive site, which can only be accessed by footpath or track, in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Objectors say that it will change what was a private, family-run site with strict limitations into a commercial site.
However, the applicants, Dale Maloney, from the Old School Art Gallery, and his business partner, Andrew Scott, say that the aim is simply to set up ‘a new eco-sustainable art retreat, fully respectful to the coast and its surroundings’.
There would be three huts at first, rising to a maximum of six, which sleep two people, have self-contained composting toilets, water cartridges which are filled off-site and are powered by solar panels. There will be no parking or vehicular access for guests and they will use golf buggy.
But opponents feel that there has been ‘a lack of transparency’ in the process.
A planning application for six mobile shepherds’ huts on the site was submitted in November last year, but was withdrawn by the applicant in February. Then, last month, a new application for a lawful development certificate was lodged with the local authority, which Dale says was based on advice from the planning department that the huts would represent a continuation of its previous use as a caravan park.
However, objector Sue Graham said: “Nobody is aware of what’s going on – it’s undemocratic and it’s unfair.”
The original application sparked a petition of more than 200 names against the scheme.
Resident Yvonne Campbell added: “People from all over come to Alnmouth because it’s beautiful, to enjoy the peace and quiet. This is a major decision for the village and for people visiting the village.”
The objectors are inviting people to meet at the village golf club at 10.30am on Saturday before walking up to the site.
Dale said: “In all our planning for this venture, we have kept the needs and concerns of the community at the fore of our thinking, this includes the needs of the golf club(s) and all the other visitors and residents of the area.
“As long-term residents in the area, our families are regular walkers along the coast and Bracken Hill, so we will always have the best interests of our beautiful countryside at the heart of what we do.
“We believe that we all can share in the beauty of the Northumberland coastline, golfers, tourists and residents alike.”
A spokeswoman for the Northumberland Estates said: “As the landowners of the site, Northumberland Estates has been working with Andrew and Dale on this project over many months.
“We are fully supportive of the proposals being put forward and will continue to assist where needed.”
Reservations of village golf club
There is right of access along a track passing through Alnmouth Village Golf Club’s (AVGC) course and the site itself is located right in between the two golf courses.
AVGC committee members Jack Kidd and John Graham: “Most golf clubs are struggling. We’re not threadbare, but it puts the golf club at risk.”
Applicants Dale Maloney and Andrew Scott: “We respect the heritage of the golf clubs and would like to work with them. We met Foxton to convey our plans and solicit their feedback. However, we requested a meeting with AVGC which was declined.”