Battle over plans for Beadnell air raid shelter home are reignited

Controversial plans for an earth shelter at Beadnell which were refused are now the subject of an appeal

Artist's impression of the house at Beadnell
Artist's impression of the house at Beadnell

A battle over a family’s plan to build a home in a former air raid shelter on the Northumberland coastline is to be revisited.

Sukie and Richard Ranken, from Gosforth, Newcastle, applied to create an “earth shelter” home for themselves and their two children in the former Second World War hideout on the coast at Beadnell last year.

Their plans yielded objections from 75 residents, the village’s parish council, the National Trust and the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, with the site lying within the AONB and designated Heritage Coast.

The application was ultimately refused by county councillors, but the Rankens have now lodged an appeal.

People in the village last night vowed to fight the challenge.

The site on Harbour Road had been owned by Mrs Ranken’s family since before the war, with it initially belonging to her grandparents.

During the war her mother, grandmother and great aunt lived there and an air raid shelter was built on the land, which they used when there were air strikes.

The shelter was partially dismantled after the war and the site became overgrown.

Mrs Ranken’s father got permission to develop the plot in the 1960s but did not act on it. Around nine years ago, the land passed to Mr and Mrs Ranken.

After speaking to an architect in 2012 and being told they would not be allowed to build a traditional house on the plot due to its sensitive location, the couple decided to seek planning permission for the underground shelter.

The development proposed a three bedroomed “partially earth sheltered unit”.

Part of the property would be “set into the re-profiled slope of the ground, with a continuation of the grassed landform continuing over the roof of the building.”

Mrs Ranken, then branch administration at the Institute of Directors North East, said the development would be “no higher” than the present site and that it would barely be visible.

The family said they would use the property as a holiday home initially but would be planning to live there permanently on Mr Ranken’s retirement from his job as a freelance television cameraman.

A member of the Save Beadnell Association described it as “an attempt to burrow into a sand dune with the inherent risk to habitats.”

Officers recommended refusal and the North area planning committee voted in line with their advice last June.

But the Rankens have appealed, and have asked that a planning inspector hold a local hearing.

Beadnell parish councillor Christine Williamson said she expected all previous opponents would be reiterating their objections.

“There was a lot of objections against it for building on the coastline. There will be a long list.

“We will be continuing our objection certainly, will not be withdrawing it.”

The Rankens could not be reached for comment.

In June, Mrs Ranken said: “We have done it to be as sympathetic as possible.

“I have gone up to Beadnell all my life and I have got no intention of doing anything that would damage it or make it unpleasant.”

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