Northumberland farm attraction lays out plans for almost 100 lodges, tree houses and caravan pitches
The owners of a popular North East tourist attraction are hoping to make the most of Northumberland’s visitor boom.
Whitehouse Farm Centre, near Morpeth, is getting back on its feet following the coronavirus pandemic, which at one point saw it appealing for donations to ensure its animals could be fed.
But now bosses are now pushing ahead with expansion plans, with draft proposals to add almost 100 forest lodges, tree houses and caravan pitches submitted to Northumberland County Council.
Dean Hogarty, managing director at Whitehouse Farm Centre, said: “We’ve owned the land for a number of years now – we managed to buy it about five years ago with the help of [Hexham MP] Guy Opperman.
“We’ve only got a pre-application in at the moment, but we want to be able to cater for all budgets, from camping and caravans, to glamping and pods and treehouses.
“We’ve gone for the maximum number [of accommodations we thought we could support], but with a view to knocking that number down anyway [depending on the council’s response].”
According to papers lodged with the county’s planning department, the current application is requesting a ‘screening opinion’, to establish what, if any, development would be considered acceptable on the site, off the A1, near Glororum.
It adds the business has ‘suffered financially as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic’, but hopes the development of holiday lets will provide a ‘sustainable, long-term plan’.
This process is expected to pave the way for a full planning application to be submitted for consideration by Easter next year, with construction starting in Spring 2023, should approval be granted.
The farm centre’s current wishlist includes proposals for:
49 ‘holiday forest lodges and tree houses’ 35 ‘holiday chalets’. 15 caravan pitches Conversion of a water tower into holiday accommodation A new access road 100 parking spaces for guests using the accommodation 110 new parking spaces for visitors
Of these, most are expected to be built within existing woodland which, combined with further tree planting, brains behind the scheme claim will shield any new facilities from view.
Public consultation on the application is now open and is expected to run until August 17.