Residents not impressed with new plans for prominent Northumberland coastal site

A photo-montage of the proposed development submitted with the application -  from the road looking east.
A photo-montage of the proposed development submitted with the application - from the road looking east.

A controversial bid to redevelop a prominent site on the coast at Amble has been resurrected, with fresh plans lodged before Christmas.

An application has been submitted to Northumberland County Council to build three new homes on the Signal Cottage site, on the seafront to the south of the town.

A photo-montage of the proposed development submitted with the application - the view from the beach looking south.

A photo-montage of the proposed development submitted with the application - the view from the beach looking south.

The proposals have been completely redesigned from a previous scheme, also for three dwellings, which was unanimously refused – against the advice of planners – at last April’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council, due to concerns over the visual impact of the building in terms of height, design and massing.

This plan was itself an amended bid after initial plans for a three-storey building containing one private house and three duplex holiday lets, first submitted towards the end of 2016, were withdrawn.

A planning statement submitted with the latest application explains that the applicants bought Signal Cottage, a single-storey, ‘utilitarian’ bungalow, in March 2016.

It became a target of anti-social behaviour and ongoing vandalism caused safety issues at the site and ‘reluctantly the original building was demolished and the site made safe’.

The statement adds that Northumberland County Council has raised no issue with the demolition and accept that the site is previously developed (brownfield) land.

Referencing the design, it says: ‘The contemporary building form has height differential and mix of materials to reduce massing and reflect the original cottage and coastal vernacular.

‘It appears as a cluster of traditional pitched and contemporary roof forms that do not dominate the skyline, but break it in a varied manner. The repeating rhythm of mono pitches and use of white render with bleached timber resonate with the coastal location.

‘The tower is reminiscent of both the fortified bastles and castles of Northumberland and the lighthouses of the coastal strip and islands.

‘The stone plinth reflects local materials and anchors the building to the rocky outcrop.’

It continues: ‘The building is set into the dunes and will be primarily seen from lower viewpoints (the beach, Links Road and coastal path) such that the roofs appear lower to the ground.’

However, it appears that residents do not agree and they have criticised the design in the objections which have been submitted so far.

One described it as ‘odious’ and ‘looking like a power station’, adding: ‘It is like the designers have gone out of their way to design anything that is not in keeping just to antagonise locals.’

Another called it a ‘monstrosity’ – ‘three residential units, topped off with what looks like a combined East German gasworks and sniper tower from the 1950s.’

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service