'Noisy' girl guides' new building to open in Northumberland

A new site for Girl Guides is to open at Kirknewton, where they were once deemed a menace by residents

The new Guides site at Kirknewton
The new Guides site at Kirknewton

A new facility for Girl Guides is set to open in a Northumberland hamlet where they were once shunned for being too noisy.

Girlguiding North Tyneside is opening its new residential outdoor centre and campsite at Kirknewton, near Wooler and within Northumberland National Park, next month.

Thirty five residents at the hamlet once objected to the organisation’s plans for the site amid fears of increased noise and anti-social behaviour from “unsuitable” groups, while complaints were later lodged with two authorities over noise.

Yet one former councillor said the complaints had been from a small number of residents, were a thing of the past and that there was no longer any hostility.

Girlguiding North Tyneside bought the former Kirknewton Church of England First School, which closed in 2003, after selling its existing no longer fit for purpose site in 2006.

The Guides saw off interest from a North East Harley Davidson motorbike club, which was one of a number of parties keen to acquire the site, which is called Cheviot View.

It was intended to be a campsite for use by the Guides along with Scouts and children working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award. It opened in 2007 and was in use most weekends.

However, in 2008 there was 35 letters of objection to a planning application for the site amid fears of increased noise and anti-social behaviour from “unsuitable” groups.

The application was nevertheless approved.

Then in summer 2010 it emerged there had been complaints to both Northumberland County Council and the Northumberland National Park Authority from residents who believed the Guides were too noisy.

Kirknewton Parish Council wrote to both official bodies distancing itself from the complaints and backing the Guides.

Complaints to the park authority arguing the Guides had failed to comply with planning conditions on three grounds - which included noise levels - were investigated but no breaches were found.

The complaint to the council was investigated and subsequently thrown out.

Now, the Guides have announced that their site will be opened next month.

The site has been funded with £265,000 raised by the Guides and a loan of £75,000 from Charity Bank.

Work began on the old site in July 2013 with the replacement structure finished the following December.

The outdoor centre will be two storeys with five bedrooms, including one with facilities for people with disabilities, a kitchen, sitting room and a large activity room.

The centre will accommodate up to 36 people while the adjacent field will provide camping facilities with a separate shower and toilet block.

The chair of Girlguiding North Tyneside Trustees, Vivienne Barke, said: “Cheviot View will provide a fantastic outdoor facility for our guides in a wonderful rural location within the Northumberland National Park.

“We were delighted with how much we were able to raise by fundraising, but I also want to thank Charity Bank for their involvement.”

Jeremy Ince, lending manager North for Charity Bank, said: “Cheviot View will enable girls and young women who live in city centre locations to engage in outdoor activities in a rural setting.

“Girlguiding aims to build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations, and Cheviot View will certainly help them do this.”

Brian Sharpe, a former parish councillor, said: “It is a delightful building. They are going to let it to various groups; Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh, that sort of thing. There is a lot of enthusiasm down there.”

Of the past issues, he added: “That has gone now. The chief complainant has moved away. There is no hostility now.

“The Guides are quite welcome - most of us welcomed them anyway. It was only a very small number of people making a very small noise.”

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