A couple whose seaside bed and breakfast business is under threat because of opposition from neighbours have won the backing of council planning officials in their battle to continue welcoming guests.
Hotelier Jane Heap and her husband Malcolm returned from the Lake District to her home town of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland with the aim of playing their part in its tourism-based economic revival.
Six months ago they opened the bed and breakfast using two of the bedrooms at their home in Front Street as guest accommodation, and the venture has gone on to become established and successful.
However, they were forced to seek planning permission for the change of use after a neighbouring guesthouse owner objected and collected a 16-name protest petition.
Mr and Mrs Heap have been living for several months with the worry that their venture could be sunk, after the objectors claimed their application should be turned down because of a lack of car parking for guests outside their home.
Now planning officers at the county council are recommending approval, saying the benefits for local tourism outweigh any limited parking problems.
Next week members of the south-east area planning committee will be recommended to allow the couple to continue running the B&B, which is being advertised to guests as not having any on-site parking.
There have been seven letters of objection, which claim that guests visiting Number 21 Front Street will worsen existing parking problems in the narrow lane leading to homes in Haven View and Sea Bank. Highways officials have also objected because of the parking issue.
A report by planning officer Sarah Seaburn says the business is only likely to generate an extra two vehicles requiring parking at any one time, and on a relatively infrequent basis.
She says this is not considered to be an intensive use, and the B&B will support local tourism and business investment in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework. “The proposal has the potential to result in some additional parking congestion, however it is considered that this would not be sufficient in its own right to warrant refusal of the application,” she adds.
Yesterday Mrs Heap, 58, said: “We can only hope the committee accept the officers’ recommendation. We have been open all summer and very successful. We make it clear in our advertising that there is no parking on site, and that it is public parking away from the property.
“Guests know that before they get here and none have a problem with it. All the opposition we are getting is very stressful and we want an end to it, because it wasn’t something we envisaged having to go through when we came here.”
Kathy Mills, owner of the adjacent Captain’s Lodge guesthouse, collected the 16-name protest petition.
She says she had to spend several thousands of pounds on demolishing a double garage and gates to provide guest parking spaces before she was allowed to run her B&B business.