A FAMILY'S plans to build a home in a former air raid shelter on a stretch of protected Northumberland coastline are facing massive opposition.
Sukie and Richard Ranken, from Gosforth, are seeking to build an “earth shelter” home for themselves and their two children in the former Second World War hideout on the coast at Beadnell.
However, their plans are facing 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.
Northumberland County Council is to determine the proposal this week, with members being recommended to refuse. Mrs Ranken, who works as branch administration at the Institute of Directors North East, told The Journal how the site on Harbour Road had been owned by her family since before the war, with it initially belonging to her grandparents.
She told how during the war her mother, grandmother and great aunt lived there.
“At the time, the piece of land had an air raid shelter built on it 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 eight years ago, the land passed to Mr and Mrs Ranken.
After speaking to an architect last year 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 shelter.
The family would use it as a holiday home initially but would live there permanently on Mr Ranken’s retirement from his job as a freelance television cameraman.
The development proposes a three bedroomed “partially earth sheltered unit” which would provide approximately 110 square metres of accommodation.
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.”
However, the proposal is facing opposition from residents, Beadnell Parish Council, the trust and the AONB partnership.
Objector Jim Norris, part of the Save Beadnell Association, last night said concerns centred around the impact on the protected coastline, and the risk of flooding and coastal erosion at the site which is requiring construction of sea defences.
“It is beyond belief that it could possibly be achieved.
“We feel it has been a speculative attempt to do something because they know they could not really build something above ground.
“This is an attempt to burrow into a sand dune with the inherent risk to habitats.”
The Rankens’ agent Roger Copestake, of ID Partnership-Northern, pointed out that the application is not being opposed by the Environment Agency or the council’s coastal change team, and that Natural England and the county’s ecologist had withdrawn their objections.
Mrs Ranken said the development would be “no higher” than the present site and that it would barely be visible.
She added: “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.”
The county council’s North area planning committee is being advised to refuse the application when it meets on Thursday.