A LONG-RUNNING row over proposed housing development in a seaside village has taken a fresh twist after a bid for two sites to be given protected status was rejected by a legal expert.
Barrister Alan Evans has ruled that local residents have failed to make the case for seafront land in Beadnell, Northumberland, to be officially designated as village greens.
His recommendation – which follows a public inquiry held in Seahouses last year – is now expected to be confirmed by the county council next month.
The ruling is the latest twist in a dispute between the Beadnell Fishermen’s Society and the Save Beadnell Association over the society’s plans to build three houses on the Haven and White Rock sites near the village harbour.
The sites are owned by the society, which wants to use the proceeds of their sale to invest in the upkeep of the harbour. However, the association is strongly opposing the new housing, claiming it would ruin the heritage and character of the area.
The society’s initial application for planning permission was rejected by the county council last year. The association then submitted the bid to have the sites designated as village greens in a further attempt to safeguard them against building.
Mr Evans was commissioned by the council to act as the inspector at November’s public inquiry, which heard evidence and submissions from both sides on whether the sites should be classified as village greens.
In his report he says the case for registration has not been made for either the Haven or White Rock sites based on their public use over several decades.
Yesterday John Wall, secretary of the fishermen’s association, said he was delighted with the outcome, claiming justice had been done.
“We have been forced, reluctantly, into a situation of having to defend an unnecessary and unfair application, which has resulted in us incurring a lot of expense and using resources we would rather have invested in the harbour,” he said. “These sites are not village greens and these applications were launched purely as a device to prevent the planning process from following its natural course. I believe that is wrong. We have spent almost all of our money to defend these ridiculous applications, for what were working areas used by fishermen in the village.”
The society’s case at the inquiry included an article it requested from local historian Katrina Porteous, as well as video evidence, including footage from a TV series by former weatherman Bob Johnson.
Mr Wall said revised plans to build three houses on the two sites were lodged with the county council recently. “Our planning application will be heard again in the very near future. The money raised by this development will be used to look after our harbour, which was always the intention,” he added.
A county council spokeswoman said: “We appointed an independent inspector to consider these two applications to register land in Beadnell as town or village green.
“The inspector has recommended that both applications be rejected. His report will now be considered by the council’s rights of way committee on March 16.”
We have been forced, reluctantly, into a situation of having to defend an unnecessary application