PLANS for a major redevelopment of a Northumberland estate look set to be given the green light tomorrow night.
Proposals for a “mansion” home and other dwellings – an extension of an existing shooting enterprise and creation of visitor accommodation and office space on the Hettons Estate, near Lowick – go before Northumberland County Council, with a recommendation that they be approved.
The 3,250 acre estate was owned by the Co-Op until the mid 1980s when it was sold to Conservative Lord Nigel Vinson.
In 1992, he sold it to Sarah and Duncan Davidson, founder of Persimmon Homes, after which it was farmed as part of the larger Lilburn Estates.
Last year, the Hettons estate was sold to Jan and Nico Geertzema, a Dutch father and son who formed the President Estate Farming Partnership.
In May, the pair submitted four planning applications to the county council to overhaul the estate.
The Geertzemas propose a new “mansion” home for them to live in, five other dwellings, an extension of the Hettons’ shooting enterprise, the creation of new visitor accommodation including a 70-bed camping barn, and the creation of new office space for the management of the farming operation.
The proposals involve the redevelopment and conversion of a number of farm buildings.
A small number of letters of objection and support have been sent to the county council, including correspondence from Lowick and Tillside Parish Councils.
Members of the former are concerned that the local road network will not be able to cope with the volume of traffic.
They also query whether the camping barn is seen as a replacement for Ford Castle, the education centre for children which is to close, and claim it could harm existing tourist accommodation providers and that groups of youngsters should not be brought to a site which hosts shooting.
Concerns have also been voiced about the need for the mansion house, its design and its proximity to St Cuthbert’s Cave and the Kyloe Hills, and related impacts on tourism.
Lowick vice chairman Peter Calder nevertheless recognised the benefits of the proposals last night.
He said: “It is a difficult one in that the area needs development, it needs people.
“These are all factors which make you inclined to welcome these sort of things.
“I think it is a good thing that the landowner should want to come and live on the estate, it is better than an absentee landlord.”
The applications go before the county council’s North area planning committee at Alnwick council chamber on Clayport Street at 6pm tomorrow.
Members are being recommended to approve all four.
The Geertzemas and agent Simon Beeby, of Strutt and Parker’s Morpeth office, were not available for comment yesterday.