Inspector turns down park appeal

AN appeal against a refused holiday park plan, which campaigners claimed could jeopardise the future dualling of the A1, has been turned down by a planning inspector.

Earlier this week, David Cullingford upheld the decision made by Northumberland County Council in May to give an ambitious scheme, at West Thirston, the boot.

The plan, to develop 36 timber lodges and nine touring-caravan pitches, among other facilities, was earmarked for land to the east of Burgham Park Golf Club and west of the A1.

But campaigners said that the ‘green’ preferred route for a dualled A1 would go right through the site, and the project was given the red light by the north area planning committee last year.

Applicant Clive Milner took the decision to appeal, but the planning inspectorate has dismissed the case.

On Tuesday, Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Chevington with Longhorsley, told the Herald he was pleased with the decision.

“I am hugely delighted that the appeal has been dismissed for the interests of local people and because we must continue to fight for the A1 with every breath that we have,” said Coun Sanderson, who spoke out against the plans at last year’s planning committee, telling members that the scheme would ‘mark the beginning of the end’ of the A1 dualling campaign.

He added: “To have allowed it to go ahead would have been very damaging in the long term.

“It would have stepped onto hallowed ground and it was important to stand up against it, particularly for those of us who have who worked on trying to get a dual carriageway.”

He said that there was plenty of similar-type accommodation in the area and described the whole concept as ‘flawed’.

“It was in the wrong place and it was the wrong sort of design,” he added.

Mr Cullingford’s decision to refuse the appeal was based on the development itself, as opposed to the potential impact on the A1 dualling campaign.

In his report, he said the plan would represent an ‘unsustainable form of development in an inappropriate and isolated location that would not be close to any existing settlement or well connected to an existing tourism use or group of buildings’.

He added that the scheme would not respect the character of the countryside.

Mr Cullingford admitted the development would have benefits for the local economy by creating jobs and the spending of prospective occupants but said these factors did not outweigh the ‘adverse impacts of the scheme’.

Of the A1, he noted that there had been concerns that the proposal could delay progress with dualling, but noted that the stretch from Morpeth to Felton was not identified as a funding priority in the period up to 2016 and is currently ‘on hold’.

Gary Swarbrick, on behalf of Mr Milner, said he did not want to comment.