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HOLIDAY PROPERTIES: Six new cottages approved against advice of planning officers

HOLIDAY PROPERTIES: Six new cottages approved against advice of planning officers

North Farm, near Embleton: Google Maps

Six new holiday cottages have been approved for a growing complex on the north Northumberland coast – against the advice of planning officers.

An application for six new tourism units plus access, parking and amenity space on land at North Farm, Embleton, was recommended for refusal at the Thursday, February 18, meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

But members voted by eight to two to support the scheme, with one of the key conditions being that the applicant, Mr R Manners, enters into a legal agreement not to implement a current permission on a separate part of the site for nine caravans, with councillors feeling this would have a greater impact on the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

The AONB partnership had objected and its concerns about the ‘negative impact on the special qualities of landscape, historic environment and tranquility’ played a key part in the officer’s recommendation, which considered the harm to outweigh the benefits for the visitor economy.

However, following a significant period of time questioning the officers – including one from the AONB team – on the planning balance, a large majority came down on the other side.

One of those who didn’t was the area’s ward member, Cllr Wendy Pattison, who admitted it had caused sleepless nights, but said: “I like the applicant, but I can’t go against the planning officer, AONB and parish council on this.”

Embleton Parish Council’s written submission to the virtual meeting stated: “What was formerly a modest-sized farm steading is threatening to become an overlarge holiday village complex which is wholly inappropriate for this sensitive and visible site.”

It explained that they believe the proposal conflicts with policies in the neighbourhood plan, which they say would probably have been officially ‘made’ by now if not for the pandemic, but which nonetheless carries significant weight.

However, the applicant’s statement said: “It’s my view that this scheme has public support and a significant amount of support has been expressed directly following the article in the Northumberland Gazette this week.”

He added: “I want to be able to attract customers so they can spend their money in Low Newton, Christon Bank, Embleton and the surrounding settlements at a time when so many businesses have been forced to close and so many businesses are struggling.”

The proposed single-storey, two-bedroom units would be sited immediately to the north of North Farm on an area of mown grass pasture with the existing holiday complex and farmhouse to the south and two former farm cottages to the north.

The whole complex is around 500 metres to the north of Embleton and therefore comfortably outside the settlement boundary.

Just one resident had objected, against 29 letters of support, although 27 of these were signed copies of a proforma letter, highlighting the direct and indirect economic benefits of the proposal.

Words: Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporter

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