The bid was for the change of use of farmland to site five shepherd’s huts and a toilet/shower block on the area of grassland that overlooks the Black Lough, with the nearest settlement being Edlingham.
The site is described in the application documents as a ‘relatively secluded plateau slightly higher than the lake-shore, about 1,500 metres from the B6341, and not visible to traffic using that road’.
An appeal was launched in May and Government-appointed inspector, A Caines, concluded that ‘the proposal would not be in a sustainable location and would cause harm to the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, highway safety and biodiversity’.
This was in line with the county council’s refusal, which was on five grounds, including that it ‘lies in an unsustainable location with no services or facilities’, highway safety and biodiversity.
In addition, there are concerns about the ‘detrimental impact to the the open countryside’ and that it ‘fails to protect and enhance the distinctive landscape character of Black Lough and the wider former district of Alnwick’.
Put forward as a diversification scheme, a planning statement suggested that the ‘proposals can only be described as minimal’, based on the ‘vast expanse of land’ owned by the applicant, adding that the land has ‘limitations’ from an agricultural economic view.
The inspector’s decision notice, issued in July, referred to the appellant stating ‘that the farming business on the site would be in jeopardy without the alternative income revenue from the proposal’.
It adds: ‘However, I have not been provided with any substantive evidence of the viability or otherwise of an existing farming business to support these claims.
‘Moreover, even if I were to accept this is a diversification scheme, I have found significant harms, so I give this matter limited weight.’