At Tuesday night’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee, members unanimously approved plans for an additional 120 caravan pitches at Haggerston Castle Holiday Park.
Located to the north of the current site, they would be arranged around three new lakes, while a new internal access road, footpaths, landscaping, adventure trails and other infrastructure will also be built.
Bourne Leisure, which runs Haggerston under its Haven brand, says the extension could boost the local economy by up to £5.7million, creating new jobs and attracting tens of thousands of extra visitors each year.
Moving approval, Coun Trevor Thorne said: “This is an established business, it’s very important to tourism in the north of the county.
“It’s not just the caravan stands, they have gone to great lengths with the landscaping, the lakes and the trails. It’s good for Northumberland.”
Coun Gordon Castle added: “This has got to be good for Northumberland. It’s always been a well-run site and has contributed substantially to the economy of the county.
“These are real jobs – a lot are seasonal, but some are more than that.”
Dominic Holding, from planning consultant Lichfields, told the meeting that Bourne Leisure had invested £60million in its Haven sites recently, adding: “This application reflects the continuing need to update the park.
“This development will have a positive economic, social and environmental impact and will help deliver the county’s tourism aims.”
A planning statement submitted as part of the application said that the proposals are expected to create almost five new full-time-equivalent jobs and 23 seasonal posts.
There would be an estimated 58,000 to 87,000 additional overnight visitors each year, leading to £2.9million to £5.7million in additional visitor spend in the local economy.
The proposals did not spark any objections, but the scheme – at a park which already has 1,270 pitches – was considered ‘a major development of strategic importance’, which is why it went before councillors for a decision.
The committee was told that the council’s building conservation officer had concluded that the extension would result in ‘less than substantial harm’ to the late-19th-century tower at Haggerston Castle, which is a Grade II-listed building.
But planning officer Ragu Sittambalam said that this would be outweighed by the economic benefits of the proposal.
His report to the meeting said: ‘It would deliver economic benefits through new the expansion of an existing business and in social terms would deliver holiday accommodation in an appropriate location, which would help to sustain the existing business and associated jobs/services, as well as being able to contribute to improvements to existing services.’
The applicant will have to make a coastal mitigation contribution of £36,000 (£300 per unit) as well as a £9,039 contribution to the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership.