A bid for four holiday chalets and a food takeaway unit on land to the south-east of The Drift Café, on Druridge Bay just north of Cresswell, was unanimously approved by the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council on Monday, February 8.
The development will also feature a large wildlife area, through the creation of a pond and extensive tree planting at the south-eastern end.
Two parking spaces would be provided for each chalet along with three staff bays, while customers of the proposed takeaway unit would use the existing car park which has room for 42 vehicles.
When the scheme was first submitted in January 2020, owner Duncan Lawrence was seeking planning permission for a new 375 sq m restaurant building, expanded and new outdoor seating areas, six two-bedroom detached holiday chalets and four one-bedroom bed and breakfast chalets.
The report to councillors explained that the proposals were amended in November 2020 following initial comments made by planning officers.
Nonetheless, the scaled-back proposals had attracted 17 objections, raising concerns such as highway safety, over-development, development in the open countryside, impacts on visual amenity and character, light pollution and ecological issues, although there were also some letters expressing support.
One opponent, Dr PR Kirkwood, submitted a statement to the virtual meeting, in which he criticised the planning officer’s report recommending approval, saying: “Such dismissive and shallow consideration of the real issues is simply unacceptable.”
“Do councillors really want Cresswell to become something like Seahouses?” he added, suggesting the scheme would ‘sound the death knell’ and be ‘the point of no return’ for the village.
But Mr Lawrence’s submission highlighted that a required parking management plan and the wildlife area were ‘net gains’, while 20 new full-time-equivalent jobs would be created.
He also mentioned that the development would result in free public toilets, described as a ‘significant benefit for the area’, but planning officers told committee members this had not been assessed at all as part of the application.
Moving approval, Cllr Richard Dodd said he welcomed any business investment, particularly at this time when the hospitality industry is struggling.