Amber signal given on Bendor rail box revamp

A BUSINESSMAN looking to develop a historic rail feature on the site of a battlefield has been given a month to come up with a smaller proposal.

Gordon Wilson, Battle of Homildon Hill, signal box

A BUSINESSMAN looking to develop a historic rail feature on the site of a battlefield has been given a month to come up with a smaller proposal.

As reported on Monday, Gordon Wilson, owner of Glendale Engineering and Glendale Properties at Wooler in Northumberland, is seeking planning permission to convert and extend the old railway signal box at nearby Bendor into a home.

The box was part of the old Alnwick to Cornhill railway and lies on the site of the Battle of Homildon Hill of 1402.

Berwick Borough Council had recommended that its planning committee refuse the application on Tuesday night.

The county archaeologist had said the proposed development does not reflect the form or scale of the box, is not in keeping with the architectural style uniting the original buildings of the railway and would disrupt the relationship between the box and its surroundings.

And councillors opted to defer the scheme for a month, to allow Mr Wilson to come up with a smaller scheme which addresses concerns of officers and themselves on the scale and mass of the proposed development.

Mr Wilson declined to comment last night.

The 52-year-old, who lives at Wooler, earlier said how he would allow the box to go to rack and ruin if not allowed to develop it.

It was one of 21 identical structures built along the route in 1881 but is now in a state of disrepair with windows broken.

Mr Wilson bought the signal box along with associated buildings and 17 acres of land at auction last year.

He intended to return the buildings to a former use as a repair and agricultural business.

Having restored some of the other buildings, Mr Wilson wants the box to be converted into a three-bedroom home to allow an employee of the new business to live on site.

He has worked with agent Dobson Designs to come up with a proposal which is “not the cheapest”, as it maintains aspects of the signal box, notably the retention of the style of some windows.

Mr Wilson has the backing of Wooler county and borough councillor Anthony Murray.

He requested the application be brought to the planning committee rather than be determined through delegated powers, as it would have been with only one letter of objection.

Coun Murray says the box is an important reminder of the historic railway and fears it would be lost if not developed.

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