Estate’s homes and tourism bid

MAJOR plans to completely revamp three different sites on a rural north Northumberland estate with 10 new houses, a hunting lodge, holiday cottage complex and a new manor house could be a ‘big boost’ for the area.

The new owners of the Hettons Estate, Nico and Jan Geertzema, who trade as The President Estate Farming Partnership, have submitted four planning applications to Northumberland County Council for the sites between Chatton and Lowick.

At Hetton Steads, farm buildings would be converted to create a two-bedroom, two three-bedroom and two four-bedroom houses, as well as garages.

A new farm office would also be built on the site and the number of full-time employees would increase from five to seven.

There would be a further five houses and ancillary garages created by converting farm buildings and dividing the existing farmhouse at Laverock Law, resulting in the loss of more than 2,500 sq m of agricultural space. Two of the homes would have two bedrooms, one three bedrooms and two four bedrooms.

According to the application, these new homes ‘are envisaged to be developed over the medium term to create additional homes for the growing estate staff as well as meeting a local/regional housing demand’.

Holburn Grange, meanwhile, will see more farm buildings converted to create a variety of tourist facilities.

There will be a hunting lodge with a dining area, kitchen, beaters’ room and a refrigerated game store. This will be accompanied by a block of eight en-suite guest rooms.

On the same site there will be two three-bedroom holiday cottages, for self-catering holiday-makers or extra space for hunting parties as well as a camping barn with eight multi-bed dormitories, designed to sleep up to 70 guests.

A new manor house and principal residence, to be known as Holburn Manor, is to be built in the same area. The house will have four bedrooms and a basement with space for underground parking. The plans detail use of solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

A travel plan has also been submitted detailing how the estate would deal with transport issues, caused by an estimated 82 extra vehicle movements a day across the three sites.

This would include having a member of staff as a travel plan co-ordinator and measures such as providing public transport information and details of walking and cycle routes for visitors.

The Laverock Law and Holburn Grange sites are within Lowick parish and parish council chairman Coun John Huddart said: “It’s a major plan and it has provoked some controversy, certainly among those who are neighbouring the sites.

“This sort of development is something a community like ours should welcome, with affordable housing and a shooting development which will bring in visitors. They are certainly fears which the landowner is hoping to allay with local people and what they think of as privileges such as access for walking their dogs. It could be a big boost for the area.”

“But you have to sympathise with people who walk their dogs but have been pulled up by the gamekeeper who has been slightly less than polite.”

County Coun Dougie Watkin, ward member for Norham and Islandshires which includes the Hettons estate, said: “It’s a major development and we look forward to receiving it at planning committee.”

He could not commment further on the plans as he is a member of the county council’s planning committee which makes decisions on planning applications.