Residents fear for ghost village

Malcolm Cresswell, Ann Latham and Hazel Hardacre from the Seahouses and North Sunderland Action Group.
Malcolm Cresswell, Ann Latham and Hazel Hardacre from the Seahouses and North Sunderland Action Group.

Residents of a housing estate dominated by second homes fear a proposed scheme nearby could become another ‘ghost village’.

Northumbria Leisure Ltd wants outline permission to build 88 properties on a greenfield site near to the coast on the south entrance to Seahouses.

But residents of the adjacent King’s Field estate, which caused controversy when it was built in 2003/4 due to the number of second homes on the site, have expressed a number of concerns about the plans.

The application is for a mixture of market and affordable housing ranging from two to five bedrooms.

There would also be a health care village, to include a health club, on the south-west corner of the site, which is intended to be a landmark ‘gateway’ scheme defining the edge of the village.

The precise mix of uses on this part of the development has not yet been finalised as it would depend on the needs of the operator.

But members of the Seahouses and North Sunderland Action Group question whether there is any need within Seahouses for either the homes or the other facilities.

Malcolm Cresswell, a full-time resident of King’s Field, said: “There’s 64 houses for sale in the village at the moment. There’s ample holiday accommodation and due to the recession bookings are well down.

“Can the infrastructure of Seahouses take another 80 properties? We have leisure facilites in the village which have capacity, so do we need another leisure facility?”

He also questioned the need and definition of affordable housing.

“This has been tried in the area both at the Broad Road site and in Beadnell.

“The Broad Road site took two years to be occupied and you see two-bedroom flats costing as much as three-bedroom houses.

“What we do need is more permanent employment as we are a village which only really has part-time seasonal employment.

“Surely if we get the full-time employment, that will generate the need for more affordable housing?”

Another King’s Field resident, Hazel Hardacre, worries that additional leisure facilities will dilute the numbers using existing sites such as the Sports and Community Centre.

“What’s going to happen to all of the facilities when the holiday-makers aren’t here?

“I can’t see any benefits as far as local people go.”

Ann Latham added: “It’s going to end up as another ghost village.”

Planning consultant Tony Woodcock states: “The lack of new affordable homes is particularly significant and the applicants will work closely with the council’s housing staff to meet identified local housing needs.

“The quality of this site and the various elements of the proposal make it a highly desirable and commercially viable development.

“The applicants and their advisors believe that it will proceed almost immediately once the detailed consent has been realised.”

The development would also create jobs as staff would be needed to manage the health village and self-catering holidays lodges.

The Seahouses and North Sunderland Action Group is holding another meeting this Saturday at 2pm in the Ward Room at the Olde Ship Inn.