Family's bid to build Northumberland earth shelter home fails at appeal

Plans to build an earth shelter at Beadnell in a former air raid shelter have been dismissed at appeal

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

A family's plan to build a home in a former air raid shelter on the Northumberland coastline has been thrown out a second time.

Sukie and Richard Ranken, from Gosforth, 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 turned down by county councillors but an appeal was lodged, triggering a recent hearing.

A Government planning inspector has now dismissed the challenge, a move which has been welcomed by residents.

The site on Harbour Road had been owned by Mrs Ranken’s family since before the war.

During the war an air raid shelter was built on the land, which the family 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 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 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.

Officers recommended refusal and a planning committee voted in line with their advice last June.

But the Rankens appealed, triggering a hearing in front of a planning inspector. Following the hearing, the inspector has now dismissed the challenge.

The decision was welcomed by Jim Norris, of the Save Beadnell Association. He said: “This is another decision which cements the security of our Heritage coastline and protects our AONB for the benefit of current and future generations to enjoy in its natural state.”

Mrs Ranken declined to comment.

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