A bid to redevelop a prominent site on the coast at Amble is recommended to get the go-ahead later this week.
However, a central viewing column, described by one objector as ‘a combined East German gasworks and sniper tower from the 1950s’, has been removed from the scheme following concern from council officers.
Fresh plans for three homes at the Signal Cottage site, on the seafront to the south of the town, were lodged before Christmas.
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building containing one private house and three duplex holiday lets, first submitted towards the end of 2016, were withdrawn.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 new proposals are now recommended for approval at Thursday’s (March 21) meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council, despite objections from Amble Town Council and 12 residents.
Addressing the design, the planning officer’s report underlines the fact that the proposed building has been sunk further into the ground – a total of 1.5metres – which means ‘the visual impact of the development has been reduced, further reinforced by the removal of the raised section of the central viewing platform’.
It adds: ‘The surrounding area is devoid of housing types given it is only bordered by the sea, the dunes of Amble Links and a caravan park on the opposite side of the Links Road.
‘However, this affords the development the opportunity to create a sense of place in its locality while being architecturally attractive.’
But Amble Town Council continues to feel that the scheme is ‘overdevelopment on this site which was previously a small bungalow’.
And the design continues to cause concern for some residents – albeit the tower was the most noticeable issue – with one saying: ‘It is like the designers have gone out of their way to design anything that is not in keeping just to antagonise locals.’
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service