Village's controversial Stack-like bar and events space to stay on for another two years

The Secret Garden, in Seaton Delaval, which has been given retrospective planning permission.The Secret Garden, in Seaton Delaval, which has been given retrospective planning permission.
The Secret Garden, in Seaton Delaval, which has been given retrospective planning permission.
A village is to remain the home of a container village for the next two years despite concerns voiced by councillors.

The site, which is similar to the recently removed Stack in Newcastle city centre, is on Double Row in the Delaval trading estate in Seaton Delaval and was originally put in place to provide an outdoor socialising area during Covid-19 restrictions.

It has gone on to host live music and sport as well as movie nights, free kids clubs and events for local businesses.

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The venue is on the site of the closed-down Laidler’s fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

A previous application was refused due to a loss of employment land and highways concerns, but the applicant then opened up an outdoor bar, restaurant and entertainment venue in the existing units known as The Secret Garden, with the shipping containers following later.

Councillors on Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley Local Area Council approved retrospective plans for the development at a meeting on Wednesday.

Northumberland County Council’s planning officers explained that the applicant had satisfied previous concerns and the development should be permitted for two years to assess the use on employment land and the impact on the surrounding area.

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However, some councillors were concerned about the fact the application had been put in on a retrospective basis.

Cllr Wayne Daley said: “I’ve been on planning committees for many years. The constant theme is how angry councillors get at retrospective planning applications, and applicants saying ‘it was going to be refused but I’ve done it anyway’.

“I’m a bit torn here. This stimulates the night-time economy, but we could be allowing something to happen which would send a signal to developers. It almost makes a mockery of planning to do this.

“We should be very aware of the signal of approving something retrospectively sends to any developer – If you think you’re not going to get permission just built it and they will let it through’.”

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But Coun Eve Chicken, who represents the ward, spoke in favour of the plans.

She said: “I think the applicant has done everything that has been asked of him. The objections I’ve heard aren’t planning reasons at all.

“It is so important for the local economy for people to have jobs and money in their pocket. We have been looking for something like this for a long time. Why would you refuse it?

“The local people have enjoyed it, it’s been a great success. Residents come to me saying how wonderful it is to have it in the area. They enjoyed Stack in Newcastle and they’re proud that it has come to Seaton Deleval – here in our village.

“The people love it and the issues have been addressed.”

The committee approved the plans by seven votes to three.