Dispute could mean new homes

A DISPUTE over the future of a former boys’ club has led to discussions with a developer over possible new homes for Alnmouth, the parish council has revealed.

Northumberland Estates caused a stir last year when it revealed plans for holiday lets on the site of the Foxton Road property, with villagers saying the community desperately needed more affordable homes instead.

Now, following discussions with the parish council, the Estates has suggested that a number of affordable homes could be included if the overall development was increased to include building on part of the allotment site.

The council’s initial view was that the loss of the allotment site would be ‘quite unacceptable’, but the Estates has since indicated that it would be prepared to offer another allotment site between Hipsburn, Lesbury and Alnmouth to replace any loss in the village.

Parish chairman Coun Bill Bourne said: “Their latest proposal is to have an overall development of 24 dwellings, on the two sites, of which eight could be affordable homes. Some allotments would be retained and the woodland in the corner could be developed as community woodland.

“The parish council has accepted that the proposals could satisfy its two aims of improving allotment provision in the area and gaining much-needed housing of a type appropriate to the village’s needs, and we have resolved to continue discussions with Northumberland Estates during the further development of their proposals.”

Coun Bourne added: “There has been no adverse comment from villagers about these plans and I have talked to some of the allotment holders who are relatively philosophical about it.

“We’re just waiting to see what the next step is. The devil will be in the detail and we are not in a position to impose anything on them because we are not the planning authority. However, I think they are anxious to keep the village on board and it is up to us to be quite clear on what we want with this development.

“I think we have to be positive about this and work with the Estates in a positive way.”

BOWING OUT: A former parish council chairman has paid tribute to her fellow councillors at what was her last meeting on Monday night.

Coun Judi Hill has decided to step down from Alnmouth Parish Council for personal reasons, after 10 years of service, five of which were as chairman.

Coun Bourne said: “I am sure that you will continue to exercise your skills in the village and will not be fading away. The village is greatly in your debt for instigating and running the Alnmouth Arts Festival for its first five years and we thank you sincerely for all your hard work. You will be missed.”

Coun Hill said: “I shall miss it, the cut and thrust of it all. It was always a dream to do the Arts Festival and I am really proud that other people think it is worthwhile to continue it.

“I thank you all for your splendid support over the years. In the beginning I was often referred to as Chairman Mao or Cruella DeVille, but I know it was never meant personally.”

BRUSH UP: Nearly 100 artists have signed up for this year’s Alnmouth Arts Festival, the parish council has heard.

Talks are ongoing to try to secure the redundant boys’ club on Foxton Road as a potential extra venue, before it is demolished to make way for holiday lets, said Coun Bourne.

“So far we have had 93 artists sign up and we’re now working up into the waiting list,” he said. “If we can get the boys’ club, we will be able to take everybody off the waiting list.

“We’re still having artists applying to come and take part, even though the deadline has passed. I even had one in touch with me today.”

The Alnmouth Arts Festival runs across the weekend of June 23 and 24 and attracts thousands of visitors from across the region and beyond.

JUBILEE MUGS: Hundreds of china mugs will be commissioned by Alnmouth Parish Council and the village Burgage Holders to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this June.

It was agreed at the monthly parish meeting on Monday to order 500, with 100 presentation boxes to go to local children to mark the national occasion.

Coun Hill said: “We ordered 400 for the Millennium, but that wasn’t enough, so we need to think about how many we order this time.”

Discussions are under way in Alnmouth on how to celebrate the Jubilee weekend, including a possible barbecue at the park and boating regatta on the estuary.

It was agreed to report back to the council’s April meeting on how things were progressing, while a letter will be sent to the Burgage Holders to ask for support in staging any social events.

FULL UP: Skips used by developers in Alnmouth are being allowed to overflow with building waste and rubbish, which is then being blown across the village, parish councillors have heard.

Coun Jack Ross said: “They’re being overfilled and left for long periods of time. They should either be removed or netted.”

Coun Bourne said: “There is a problem with rubbish being blown off building sites.”

And Coun Peter Annett added: “I am sick of picking bits of plastic out of the trees.”

It was agreed that the parish council contacts Northumberland County Council’s planning department to ask what can be done to enforce better practice.

REPAIRS NEEDED: Part of the play surface at Alnmouth’s park has been torn up, parish councillors were told.

The council agreed to seek estimates for the cost of replacing the damaged section.