We must protect this treasure

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Lovers of the North Northumberland Heritage coast will be well satisfied with the latest decision by the planning inspector adjudicating on the appeal by the owners of Link House, a property situated between Beadnell and Seahouses.

Link House is a small cottage which nestles between sand dunes and whilst visible from the road, is relatively inconspicuous in its environment.

The owners of this property had submitted a planning application to build a new property twice the size and of two storey construction which would have created a building totally inappropriate to its sensitive coastal position.

Although recommended by the north Northumberland planning department, the application was subsequently rejected by the planning committee. Faced with this rejection the owners decided to appeal. It is this appeal that has been rejected by the inspector.

The north Northumberland coastline is a highly protected area. It is inundated with sweeping beaches, castles, rocky and sandy shorelines and a plethora of history, heritage and wildlife.

Tourism is the main industry in coastal rural north Northumberland. Not only is this natural beauty recognised by the likes of the National Trust and English Heritage but it is recognised by Europe as a special and unique place. This area of shoreline has the highest protections possible and is covered by the following:

It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a European Marine site and a Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area. As if this wasn’t enough, it is classified as a National Nature Reserve, Site of Community Importance and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Taken together, these protections are designed to ensure that this special environment remains just that, special, and that it is not ruined by out-of-place development that would destroy its very essence.

The planning department has a prime responsibility to maintain these protected areas and are obligated to be the first line of defence with regard to ‘guardianship’ over them.

If, in practice, the planners ignore the existing safeguards then the aforementioned designations are effectively useless and serve no realistic purpose other than to occupy the time of those who devise them.

In the last three years, in and around Beadnell, we have had four planning applications for coastal developments which should not have progressed beyond the application stage.

Three of these applications have been thrown out by councillors who, wisely and sensibly, overrode planning department recommendations.

The remaining application for a proposal known as ‘the earth shelter’ (burrowed into the sand dunes directly on Harbour Road, Beadnell) is still undecided. In addition to these totally inappropriate building applications, residents of Beadnell have had to fight tooth and nail to preserve established rights of way along our village coastline.

Indeed, it is only recently that an inspector’s decision upheld three rights of way that developers were seeking to abolish.

The inspector’s report concerning Link House is conclusive in its judgement and far-reaching in its implications.

Mr Cullingford has given his unequivocal decision with regard toLink House: Its redevelopment has been rejected. His words, however, are just as applicable to any current or future proposals that encroach directly on our heritage coastline.

This majestic seashore is our inheritance. Lucky are we who live by it and can visit regularly. It is recognised the world over for what it is: One of the most beautiful, interesting, historically-rich and dramatic coastlines anywhere. The very least we can do is to ensure that we pass on this wonderful, natural treasure to future generations.

Jim Norris,

Save Beadnell Association