A golf club near Morpeth is driving ahead with plans to build up to 475 holiday homes.
The venue for one of the EuroPro Tour events since 2010, Longhirst Hall Golf Club has raised its profile at a regional and national level in recent years. It opened in 1997 on the site of the former Butterwell opencast coal mine.
But it says it needs to ‘diversify its offer’ to secure its long-term future as membership revenue has been falling and so it has put together an initial bid for 150 lodges on its land.
If this is approved, it is anticipated that a further application for a second phase of 325 holiday lodges would follow. The site also includes a separate equestrian centre with stable buildings and 10 car parking spaces.
However, the scale of the proposal has caused concern with a group of people living near the site and local councillors.
A planning statement on behalf of the applicant states: ‘The holiday lodge development would make up for the loss of accommodation for golf tourists following the closure of Longhirst Hall Hotel, as well as directly cross-funding the golf club.
‘As such, it will contribute to the development of the Morpeth area’s tourist economy and provide a valued new source of visitor accommodation.
‘Limited weight can be attached to the application site’s proposed green belt designation at this stage, given that the emerging Northumberland Core Strategy, which will specifically define this designation, is yet to be subject to examination in public.’
Longhirst resident Peter Nicol states in his response: ‘The widening of the existing access road between the proposed new access and the club house and the construction of the holiday homes would significantly increase the traffic movements, thus increasing noise and air pollution for the existing properties along the south eastern boundary.’
Longhirst Parish Council’s objection says a scheme on this scale would ‘affect the local environment and remove the rural setting of Longhirst, The Grange and Fawdon House, and Hebron that has existed for centuries’.