In what is becoming a never-ending saga, a decision on a scheme for holiday lodges at Rothbury Golf Club was deferred for the third time this week.
The bid for 11 grass-roofed lodges, near Whitton, was first recommended for approval at the February meeting of Northumberland County Council’s planning committee, but members voted to go on a site visit first.
Then, last month, it went back before the councillors, but they narrowly voted to defer the scheme for a second time in order to seek information about the business case, as the lodges are described as ‘essential to sustain the golf club’.
At Tuesday’s third attempt, this information had been provided by the applicants, the Northumberland Estates, but it was only received the day before the meeting.
Members were asked to read and discuss the submission there and then, in a closed session with the public excluded due to commercial sensitivity, but a majority of the councillors felt that this was ‘inadequate’.
In planning terms, as the county council’s conservation officer and Historic England said that the scheme would cause ‘less than substantial’ harm to the Whitton conservation area, which borders the site, this has to be balanced against the public benefit.
Much of this public benefit would derive from supporting the viability of the golf club, but there would also be the benefit that the lodges would bring in their own right as tourist accommodation.
The application, which was resubmitted in December after an initial bid for 21 lodges was withdrawn, has now sparked more than 100 objections, but 50 letters of support have also been submitted.
Objectors, including the parish councils of Rothbury and Whitton and Tosson, feel that the case for the benefits outweighing the harm has not been made.