A new watersports centre and café on the north Northumberland coast has been given the green light.
The application for the coastal activities base, incorporating public toilets, changing and shower facilities, on the overspill car park at Beadnell Bay, was approved at last Thursday’s North Northumberland Local Area Council meeting.
Originally, there were to be changes to the layout of the main car park, but the existing parking and access arrangements will now be retained.
The county council is applying for a £1.15million grant to the Coastal Communities Fund, with the local authority expected to contribute the remaining 20 per cent – around £300,000.
The building would then be leased to a tenant, who would be responsible for the toilets and changing facilities, with the rent likely to be around £25,000 a year.
But Antony Baird, a ‘keen watersports enthusiast’, told the meeting that the proposals would represent a deterioration from what’s there already.
He said that those taking part in watersports need car access as they are transporting large pieces of equipment and any loss of parking could put people off.
Plus, due to the fragility of surfboards, etc, parking on the grass is the preferred option, which would be lost if the building is surrounded by hardstanding.
Mr Baird also warned that the centre could become a white elephant due to the unlikelihood of finding someone to operate a watersports business all year round, including through the winter.
However, Coun Alison Nation said that Beadnell Parish Council supported the scheme as it is sustainable, will create jobs and is supported by many permanent residents, although she did highlight concerns around need, the suitability of the location, design and the internal layout.
Moving approval, Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, the local member, said: “This is one step in an application to the Coastal Communities Fund. We are just deciding if the building is acceptable where it is.
“It will be a two-stage business with the watersports centre, which probably won’t operate in the winter, but also the café upstairs all year round.
“The public toilets will be in here too, providing a much-needed upgrade.”
Coun Trevor Thorne added: “I think this is a great asset for Beadnell, although I’m slightly disappointed with the design.
“I do take on board what the objector said, but they are largely operational things which are outside the planning decision.”
The scheme was given the nod by eight votes to zero with two abstentions.
A county council spokeswoman previously said that the development would ‘represent a very significant investment in this popular destination, helping to foster a sustainable future for Beadnell’.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service