County planners must be called to account

WHATEVER the outcome of the hearing to consider the application to register the Haven and White Rock sites as village greens, Beadnell’s coastal land is still under threat despite the clear planning policies that exist to protect it.

The fact is Northumberland’s natural assets and heritage are not being adequately protected by the planning department.

Hitherto, the developers have borne the brunt of the public’s dismay and anger over unjustified development but it is abundantly clear that the planning department is just as culpable.

This is highlighted by the stance taken by the department with regard to the development of Beadnell’s coastal land.

It not only supports the current application to develop but Mr Rutherford, the chief planning officer, has also stated that he could not see in principle any objection to even further development on Beadnell’s coastal land.

This land, an AONB in which the history and heritage of Beadnell is locked, protected by covenant and planning policies, a unique habitat for flora and fauna, an invaluable area on which all can spend quality time, has for the planning department no more significance than building plots.

Lip service is given to protecting the heritage on these sites in the same planning documents that set out proposals to destroy it using the words ‘brown field’ and ‘industrial’ to describe what is in fact heritage.

Such double talk we expect from developers but we do not expect these false descriptions of Beadnell’s coastal land to be supported by the planning department.

The planning department’s enthusiastic endorsement of and contribution to the misleading descriptions that have been made to promote these developments is further indication of the little regard it has for this AONB. It implies that planning policies do not apply to such ‘degraded and contaminated land’.

The planning department stands indicted of supporting an application to breech planning policies that is totally unjustified and for that it must be called to account. This sorry saga demonstrates that the planning department is not fit for purpose.

G Wilde, Harbour Road,