I awaited Northumberland Estates’ reply to Rob Jewitt’s letter with some anticipation. In the event, it seemed to evince a tone of self-justification to the effect that we are lucky to have the Estates in our midst, (Northumberland Gazette, January 10).
While that might indeed be the case, Rory Wilson, writing on behalf of the Estates, doesn’t appear to get the point that many neighbours of its property worry about what seems to be the business’ attitude to residential development.
Its expensively-backed attempt to override the Neighbourhood Plan at Willowburn and its apparently insensitive proposals for the site of the former Dukes County Middle School are recent examples of its approach.
His Grace comes across as being content to leave his employees to deliver decent financial returns for his family from its property holdings without appearing to put his head above the parapet.
By way of a suggestion, and if he hasn’t done so already, perhaps he could raise further his family’s local patronage profile by offering to discuss with politicians the likes of leading the building of a new bus station in Alnwick, which would complement, rather than detract from, the attractive ancient market town that is Alnwick (in the main).
And while he’s at it, perhaps he and his team might work on a vision to improve Alnwick’s southern boundary.
At present, when driving north one is confronted with a somewhat randomly developing facade, which includes green ‘crinkly tin’ sheds and a McDonald’s sign.
How much more appealing might it be if northbound drivers’ first sight of Alnwick was, for example, a campus of signature buildings (showcasing the expertise of North East architects), dedicated to practical education for young people with Northumberland’s vital tourism industry in mind?
One such building could, perhaps, be a hotel services training school.
Finally, it may be that Northumberland Estates operates, or contributes substantially to, a fund for improving and maintaining the fabric of Alnwick’s fine old sandstone buildings, regardless of their ownership.
If so, I’m sure many would like to know more such that visitors taking Pevsner-like perambulations through the town might be spared the not uncommon sight of neglected facades.