A year-round artists’ retreat in a sensitive spot on the north Northumberland coast has been given the go-ahead after councillors’ concerns were allayed on a site visit.
Applicant Dale Maloney’s bid to change the use of Link End Caravan Park, at Alnmouth, in order to allow five glamping pods to be used all through the year was approved by eight votes to zero, with two abstentions, at last Thursday’s (March 21) meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.
The scheme, for a site nestled between the village’s two golf clubs, went before last month’s meeting, but members in the end voted to defer it so they could go on a site visit and seek clarity on several issues.
Back in June 2016, permission was granted for the continued use of the former Link End Caravan Park, for up to five caravans between May and October.
Rather than a planning application, it was a certificate of lawfulness bid which established an existing use of the land, but Mr Maloney had to submit this new application in order to operate the site for 12 months of the year.
As operator of the successful Old School Art Gallery and café in the village, he is seeking to expand and diversify that business by the addition of the camping pods, which are to be marketed as an artists’ retreat.
At the meeting, it was confirmed that the AONB Partnership had no objections to the proposals in light of two additional conditions outlined at the February meeting, while Alnmouth Parish Council revealed it now supported the application.
Its chairman, Coun Shaun Whyte, explained that the parish council tended to stay neutral, but decided to express a view in this case as it has been contentious. He said it seemed unreasonable not to allow the site to operate in winter, when it already can in the busier summer.
Mr Maloney added that he had agreed to have a meeting with Alnmouth Village Golf Club – the main source of objections – in the interests of being good neighbours going forward.
Moving approval, Coun Robbie Moore said: “Having a site meeting was completely valid and showed to all members the merits of having it, based on the concerns we had last time.
“It’s now crystal-clear from the AONB and the biggest issue, which was the access track, I think has been alleviated.”
Coun Jeff Watson said: “I was the only one who said we shouldn’t have a site visit, because I was satisfied with what we had before. It just confirmed what I thought; I think this is a good scheme.”
Coun Gordon Castle added: “What I’m really pleased to hear is that there are discussions taking place between the applicant and the golf club. It’s good to see good neighbourliness creeping in.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service