“Hideous” train carriage approved for holiday lets
Proposals to convert the train compartment, which is currently located on land next to the East Coast Mainline at Stannington Station Road, into two accommodation pods had been submitted to Northumberland County Council.
And although decision-makers eventually reached the conclusion they had little option but to approve the scheme, they also added a raft of conditions to the ruling.
“I was picturing the Railway Children, not an Intercity 125 – it looks hideous,” said county councillor for Choppington, Mary Murphy.
“It says it’s an ‘unusual addition’, but I think that’s the understatement of the year.
“It’s not on the main street, but it is visible and it’s an eyesore, and the fact that there’s a train station nearby doesn’t mean anything at all.”
According to a report for the county council’s Castle Morpeth Local Area Council, the proposals supported aims to promote “sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments”.
The panel was told it was considered an “acceptable in-fill” application and complied with the council’s current policies on development in the greenbelt.
But members of the committee also agreed with a submission by Stannington Parish Council on the plans, which cited concerns about the impact on “visual amenity” in the area.
Further fears were raised over the possible long term effect if the carriage’s exterior was not maintained to a high standard.
Councillors eventually voted to approve the scheme, but with the addition of conditions requiring the applicant to restrict the carriage’s use to holiday lettings only, maintain its external condition and return the site to its former condition if it goes a continuous period of 12 months without being used for holiday lets.
Coun Richard Dodd said: “I think we’re getting ourselves tied up in too many conditions that might not be feasible or possible to enforce.
“The concept of a train carriage is not new, there’s [several pubs in the North East] which have used older carriages and we are probably going to see more of this coming down the line.
“We’ve got shepherd huts, the staycation boom and everyone is trying to do something different while people are trying to come to the UK, or stay in the UK, for holidays.”