The curious case of a council on the side of developers

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Members of the county council’s North Northumberland Local Area Council commented on the unusual circumstances which saw a parish council supporting a scheme that had been recommended for refusal.

Planning officers said the bid in Whitton to demolish redundant agricultural sheds and build five holiday cottages, on land south-west of Carterside, should be turned down based on its location in the open countryside, and a majority of members backed this call.

But, in a situation that very rarely occurs in planning meetings, the parish council supported the scheme and Coun Alan Winlow spoke last week in favour of approval.

He described it as an appropriate development which would improve ‘a run-down and dilapidated site’, adding that the council believes it’s in the interest of the rural community to support development within the curtilage of exisiting sites.

Guy Munden, from the Northumberland Estates, made similar points, adding: “It will provide vitality to the existing rural community.”

But Coun Steven Bridgett moved refusal and praised the quality of the planning officer’s report.

“It’s clearly development in the open countryside in my view,” he said. “It sets a precedent for more development towards Simonside and Lordenshaws.”

Coun Gordon Castle added: “The problem is incremental development; you could have a hamlet spreading across that field.”