I VISIT this area frequently, along with thousands of others, to enjoy the rolling beauty of the Northumberland landscape.
However, recent building development, specifically in localities around Craster and Embleton (and it may well be occurring elsewhere up and down the coast) is in danger of diminishing both visitors’ and residents’ pleasure in living here: the landscape is being ‘eroded’.
There has been in the last few years an increase in ‘sky-line’ development at the south end of Embleton near Glebe Farm, at the north end of Embleton Bay (with the cliff-top accommodation for golfers which looks as if it is extending.)
It is also occurring at the south end of Craster, where several houses have been built or modified in recent years and where no attempt at sensitive integration into what was a relatively unified style of building has been made.
There is some good-quality development, but also a hotch-potch of styles appearing with no consideration for the historical style in the locality, with use of inappropriate scale, style and poor choice of materials: large plastic picture windows being just one example. A stretch of (dead) leylandii hedging to greet walkers on the path into Craster from the south approach of the coastal path also serves to create a poor impression.
There is another, more glaring, example of this type of development and on a larger scale; the view from the north end of Embleton towards Dunstanburgh is now effectively ruined by the construction of a building in a prominent position on the Dunstan Steads road which is completely out of scale and character.
It incorporates corrugated steel and concrete panelling together with a breeze-block outhouse.
These are materials more suited to an industrial estate than a farming area. How was this allowed to be built in such a sensitive area? I have recently signed a petition in Embleton supporting opposition to a possible application by the current landowner to construct two more buildings, possibly in the same materials and to the same scale as the one recently put up.
The applicant appears to have little interest in retaining the distinctive character of the area; it is difficult to see how a landowner can have such indifference to the attractiveness of the locality.
I’m not suggesting rigid uniformity of style, nor for a stop on all building development.
Of course, local people need to be able to improve their homes and farmers may need to be able to improve farm buildings, but this area deserves to have planning which is of the highest standard and with a sensitive consideration of the surroundings.
In an area as attractive as this, there is more of a responsibility on those with the power to grant planning permission and to decide on changes to the built environment to impose a far more robust monitoring of applications for their visual impact.
There will always be a need to strike a balance between development necessary to meet the needs of the local economy and that of preserving and enhancing this landscape.
This is not a new issue and one which has been discussed in your newspaper many times, but it seems to me that the issue needs revisiting and reviewing urgently and a more rigorous set of standards put in place.
After all, it is not just about visitors like myself enjoying the pleasant scenery when they come here, but also about people who live in the area all year round who have to live with the legacy of poor design.
It is in everyone’s interests for this area to remain one of outstanding natural beauty, not become one of outstandingly inappropriate building development.
Stockton Lane, York