Protestors welcome holiday park decision

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CAMPAIGNERS pushing for the dualling of the A1 in Northumberland have welcomed the rejection of a development which may have scuppered attempts to expand the road.

At last Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee, plans for a holiday park were thrown out by members.

The scheme – which would be known as Elm Park and consist of 36 holiday lodges and nine touring caravan pitches – would be situated on land to the east of Burgham Park Golf Club and west of the A1.

However, the ‘green’ preferred route for a dualled A1 would go right through the site.

The county council’s highways department had originally objected to the scheme but had to withdraw this when the Highways Agency, which is responsible for major trunk roads, did not object, as the scheme is not in line for funding in the period up to 2016.

Speaking at the meeting as ward member, Coun Glen Sanderson said: “It would mark the beginning of the end of this campaign that has been worth fighting for and is still worth fighting for.”

And members agreed.

Coun Trevor Thorne said: “I’m not going to be the councillor who sabotages the green route of the A1.

“Everyone agrees this is what we want, this is what we need, to open up the economy of Northumberland.”

And Coun Dougie Watkin said: “If planning is about anything, it’s about putting things in the right place.

“This is the wrong thing in the wrong place.

“This piece of land isn’t just any piece of land, it’s the only piece of land adjacent to the A1 at that point.”

The Highways Agency was also criticised for leaving the council in a difficult position.

Coun Robert Arckless said: “I think the Highways Agency has placed the officers of this council and us as elected members in an awful position.

“That we can’t protect this site is, in my view, a disgrace, an absolute disgrace.”

Coun Watkin suggested deferring the decision, which had already been deferred from the April meeting, to go back to the Highways Agency and underline how important the A1 scheme is to Northumberland.

But the county council’s highways development officer Jack Watson told members that he had had several discussions and was told that this decision had gone to ministerial level.

After the meeting, Coun Sanderson said: “It would affect hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people, that’s why it was a crucial decision. That’s why I think we will stand firm as long as we have breath in our bodies.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, campaign director for the Dual the Al campaign, said: “The Dual the A1 campaign objected formally to the planning application and I was pleased that our lobbying of councillors to protect the route was effective.”