HOUSING: Creating ghost towns at coast

On a recent TV programme, I was made aware of the threat of second homes/holiday lets accumulating along the Northumberland coast.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 5th April 2019, 6:00 am

Second homes lie empty for months and, depending on the percentage compared with permanent residences, result in ‘dead villages’ in winter.

Beadnell has a rate of 67 per cent; Bamburgh 54 per cent; over half of the houses in Alnmouth are second homes.

Beadnell, Bamburgh and one other village are forming an association under the chairmanship of Andy Brown to counter this threat.

Beadnell held a referendum regarding the threat of second homes and voted against any more in the village.

The young people of these coastal villages cannot afford the prices landowners and developers demand for homes. The latter do not seem to care.

Where are all the affordable houses? Of the 60 proposed dwellings in Hipsburn, only 12 are scheduled to be affordable.

As Andy Brown stated: “The whole character of the village is changed.”

In some villages, Amble for example, the sheer number of houses is overwhelming.

The village community spirit is being constantly diluted. It begs the question, do we really need ever more houses?

Lesbury parish has 400 houses; Northumberland Estates wants to increase this by another 100 houses. How many of these will be part-time dwellings?

The Neighbourhood Development Plan for the parish has evolved over 18 months with the involvement of local residents; it reflects their hopes and wishes.

At no time was there any opportunity to enter into any dialogue with Northumberland Estates.

Northumberland is well known as having one of the least populated and wildest coastlines in the country, with the resultant low levels of pollution, including light pollution. These are the things that attract tourists.

But these are also the things that are damaged and destroyed by new housing estates, particularly estates predominantly composed of second homes.

Street lights, for example, still light empty roads when the inhabitants have returned to their everyday lives. This has an impact on the quality of life for both permanent residents and the local wildlife.

There is a real danger that new-build estates, with prices out of reach for locals who wish to remain in the area, will create ghost towns along the coast, destroying and fracturing communities irreversibly.

Janet and Hal Platt,