The village that doesn't want to be discovered

PEOPLE living in a Northumberland hamlet have come out in force against plans for a major development within their community – fearing it will put them on the map.

The hamlet of Charlton near Bellingham

PEOPLE living in a Northumberland hamlet have come out in force against plans for a major development within their community – fearing it will put them on the map.

The majority of the 19 people living in Charlton, near Bellingham in Tynedale, are opposing plans for a tourism-led redevelopment of redundant agricultural buildings at Charlton Farm.

The hamlet’s occupants say they live in the 11-home community because they enjoy its secluded nature, with Charlton not even featuring on road signs and nothing outside the settlement to indicate that it exists.

And they fear the development would change that forever, and effectively put them on the map.

Retired probation officer Jerome Stonborough, 64, who lives in the centre of the development site at Charlton Old Farm, said last night: “The hamlet is extremely secluded and a most attractive spot. The great majority of people who pass by do not even know it is there, that is its great beauty. Residents love the fact that it is a secluded unspoilt little corner.

“I do not wish to object to the regeneration of the farmyard but I feel that the scale and appropriateness is really quite out of place.” Fellow resident Jane Hartley added: “I live here because it is quiet and out of the way and you do not get passing vehicles, and that will go.”

The development, proposed by Julian Morrison-Bell, who lives at nearby Newton, would comprise an art gallery, cafe, performance space, craft studios, farm shop, bed and breakfast, 20 pitch campsite and bunkhouse.

A joint letter and 18 individual submissions were sent to Northumberland National Park Authority, which will decide the two applications for planning permission and listed building consent. The Council to Protect Rural England has also objected.

The authority yesterday deferred final decisions to allow them to hold a site visit to assess the visual impact of the development on its surroundings.

Mr Morrison-Bell said many of the objectors had been press-ganged into signing the joint letter and some had since overturned their opposition. He also argued none of the letter writers was a native or long-term resident of the North Tyne area and said some are from London, Bristol and Ireland.

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