Northumberland County Council’s plans for a caravan and camping site at Druridge Bay Country Park are attracting objections from nearby residents.
Back in February last year, the authority revealed proposals to replace the old play equipment, extend and improve the café and outdoor seating area, and introduce ‘a new facility to meet the rising demand for camping and touring caravan facilities along this section of the coast’.
It is part of an almost £1million scheme to improve Druridge Bay as well as Plessey Woods Country Park, between Bedlington and Stannington, and Bolam Lake Country Park, near Morpeth.
The announcement attracted some criticism, although much of this hinged on the fact that in order to pay for this investment, it was proposed that parking charges would be reintroduced at the three sites.
The fees have now been put in place, although the first hour is free. All-day parking costs £3, while up to two hours is £1.60. Seasonal permits valid in all three parks cost £35.
At Druridge Bay, the play area reopened last August following a £130,000 refurb, before, in October, a planning application for an extension to the café area and internal alterations to the visitor centre to form three showers within the toilet area, as well as a new patio area, was given the go-ahead.
Now, the council has lodged its bid for a campsite at the country park, although a number of neighbours have already submitted objections.
A planning statement submitted as part of the application explains: ‘In order to provide an enhanced public facility and park income stream, the council wishes to create a formalised area for camping with tents, touring caravans and camper vans on its country park at Druridge Bay.
‘The development will provide stone surfaced access tracks and 20 caravan/campervan pitches with electrical hook-up points and nearby water standpipes. Seven grass tent pitches will also be available.
‘A waste-water cassette wash-out facility will be provided nearby, as will a small modular building with facilities for washing dishes.’
The proposed area is already used for camping on a number of occasions during the year, according to the plans, and lies to the south of Ladyburn Lake, between the lake and the country park access road.
It would operate for a maximum of seven months of the year, between the beginning of April and the end of October.
However, Hadston resident Liz Pringle said: “This park was created after opencast coal mining and adds to the beauty of the beach and surrounding area, we have otters in the lake, a diverse bird life plus red squirrels.
“It is meant to be a country park not a caravan site. Plus there are other caravan sites in the locality who will potentially lose business because of the proposal.”
One objector who has lodged his opposition writes: ‘Druridge Bay has attracted and encouraged many people over the years to reconnect to nature and themselves. Any camping would just discourage people, both in and out the area to use Druridge Bay for what it was originally built for.’
Another adds: ‘This cannot be allowed to happen. It will ruin a fantastic part of the country park.’
But not all of the submissions are objections. Another states: ‘A good idea and something that is missing from the area, not everybody can afford or wants to stop at a busy caravan park and will go well with the festivals etc that are held there.’
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service