A scheme for 150 holiday lodges at Longhirst Golf Club was rejected against the recommendation of the planning officers.
The proposals would be in the open countryside and green belt, but the ‘very special circumstances’ in this case were said to be that the lodges would support the golf club, which is struggling, particularly since the closure of Longhirst Hall Hotel in 2014.
But, on Tuesday, a majority of the members of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee felt that the case had not been made well enough, particularly as it appeared that this bid was merely the first phase of a scheme for a total of 475 lodges.
The planning officer’s report stated: ‘The applicant states that the plan confirms that the lodge proposals only begin to offset the current losses of the golf club at years nine and 10 on the basis that a full complement of 475 lodges is developed.
‘Notwithstanding this, the addendum statement seeks to show that delivery of phase one of the development (ie, the 150 lodges comprising the current planning application) is integral to the club’s immediate short-term viability and will include the construction of much of the infrastructure required to deliver the project, such as the site access.’
The meeting heard from a local resident on behalf of objectors, county councillor for the area Alan Sambrook, and Mark Rochester, of Pegswood Parish Council, who all raised various concerns, including the location of the access opposite a residential property.
However, the applicant’s agent Jonathan Wallace highlighted that the club’s closure would result in the direct loss of 20 jobs as well as the wider knock-on effects on tourism.
He said that a section 106 legal agreement would be signed to guarantee the profits from the lodges were fed directly into the golf club.