Wooler Parish Council round-up

Ryecroft Hotel, Wooler.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Ryecroft Hotel, Wooler.'Picture by Jane Coltman

A bid to redevelop a disused hotel in Wooler has finally been approved.

Permission has been granted to a scheme to redevelop the Ryecroft Hotel, which has been vacant since 2012, into residential apartments as well as converting an outbuilding into semi-detached, mezzanine bungalows.

This latest application would see the former hotel transformed into one, two and three-bedroom flats, alongside the new bungalows to the rear.

According to a statement, the ‘proposal seeks to provide new high-quality apartments utilising the existing as much as possible but also looks to enlarge the existing building by adding a new floor on top’.

There have been attempts to secure planning permission for residential development on the site since 2013.

• The re-fencing of the play area in Scott’s Park has been completed – and the project came in under the initial quote.

At last month’s meeting, Ian Atkinson won the contract as his quote was not only cheaper, but also better met the council’s brief, and the final cost was £8,391. Coun Mark Mather described it as an ‘A-class job’.

Coun Malcolm Pringle asked what the protocol was for signing off projects, asking whether the council’s insurer was happy.

Chairman, Coun Mark Mather, said that a detailed specification had been drawn up for the work, in line with ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) advice. Members agreed that they were happy for the work to be signed off, although Coun Pringle abstained.

• The parish council is to meet to discuss its views of the first draft of the neighbourhood plan.

The council will then feed its views back to the steering group as part of amendments being made to the draft. It was also agreed that this early draft should not be put into the public domain, as multiple drafts could be confusing.

Coun Mark Mather raised concerns about the possibility of having to redo or review the plan – at significant cost – if it didn’t fit with the county council’s core strategy, but the chairman of the steering group, who was present, was not permitted to speak.

• Police provided an update on the six crimes in the parish since the last meeting. There had been two public-order offences, a scrap caravan stolen from a compound, a poacher found with a bladed instrument, a break-in at the Ryecroft Hotel and a minor assault at Fry Fry.

• The parish council is once more considering paying the county council for use of a worker to carry out extra enhancement work around the parish. Councillors now need to decide what tasks they may want doing and how many hours this would require, eg, one day a week.

• The parish council agreed that the two charities to be supported by the collection at this year’s carol service, on December 12, will be HospiceCare North Northumberland and the Great North Air Ambulance. The Christmas lights coffee morning takes place this Saturday.

• Members agreed to pay £10 annually to join the SENRUG campaign group as it bids to bring trains back to Belford station, as well as improving services at Chathill. Councillors agreed that Belford being back in use would be of benefit to the people of Wooler.

• County councillor for Wooler, Anthony Murray, had aired his concerns about post-16 transport at last month’s meeting. This month, he simply said: “Discussions are going on and I’m quite heartened with those discussions. We should get more information soon.”