Neighbours opposed to plan for former WI hut in Northumberland

Plans to replace a dilapidated former Women’s Institute building in Northumberland with a home are being fought by a neighbouring pub

A proposal to build a new house next to the Rat Inn is being fought
A proposal to build a new house next to the Rat Inn is being fought

Plans to replace a dilapidated former Women’s Institute building in Northumberland with a home are being fought by a neighbouring pub.

A proposal to demolish the former Beaufront and Anick WI building, at the latter village near Hexham, and build a home in its place is currently the subject of a planning appeal.

However, the appeal is being fought by the owners and tenants of the popular Rat Inn next door.

Meanwhile, a Northumberland County Councillor has also lodged an appeal over a decision by his authority which he says leaves him nowhere to keep his lawnmower.

The application for the former WI building was submitted to the county council by Barry Endean of Chester-le-Street in November last year.

However, Hexham based Desire Properties - which owns the Rat Inn, and Karen Errington and Phil Mason, who run the pub, both objected, along with three other residents.

Objectors claimed the scheme would “overpower the setting of the pub,” harm the openness of the area and of surrounding green belt and would represent overdevelopment.

They also claimed it would exacerbate parking problems on the village green and not be appropriate to the character and appearance of nearby dwellings, the community as a whole, or the local vernacular.

County planning officers recommended approval but the West area planning committee voted to refuse in April.

Now, however an appeal has been submitted in the name of James Peel, of Ovingham, with Newcastle based Dr Anton Lang as agent.

Last night, Ms Errington said the couple has sent a letter to the planning inspector who is determining the appeal repeating their objections, stating that the dwelling would “block” views from the pub.

She said: “At the moment, we enjoy views across the valley and if the building was to go ahead, it would impact on that.”

Dr Lang described the hut as a “long wooden shed/shack” and said: “At the moment it is in the hands of the inspector.”

Meanwhile, county councillor for Bellingham John Riddle has lodged an appeal seeking removal of a condition imposed by his authority in relation to his conversion of farm buildings to homes.

Coun Riddle, also chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority, was initially refused planning permission by the council to developing the buildings, which the council branded heritage assets.

He appealed that decision and was unsuccessful, before the West area committee eventually approved his amended plans.

Now, however, he has appealed one of the conditions the council imposed on the development, which he says forbid him from erecting any new buildings at the site without seeking permission.

This he says means he can not build a garden shed without gaining approval first.

Coun Riddle said: “When you think I am demolishing a massive amount of agricultural buildings, to say I am not allowed to put anything up just seems absolutely bizarre.

“Where do they want us to keep the lawnmower? Do they want us to keep my lawnmower in the bedroom?”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer