AN entrepreneur thwarted in his attempt to create a luxury holiday park in rural Northumberland is gearing up for a new battle.
Sherod Walker, the man behind plans for Waterfalls holiday park and equestrian centre at Birtley, near Ridsdale, north of Hexham, has been given a February 1 appeal date against the county council’s rejection of his ambitious plans for the 16-acre site.
But now he has also submitted a second application for a smaller development of three holiday cottages and two stables on land next to his house on the Waterfalls estate.
And he has been immediately faced with objections from Wind Prospect Developments Ltd, which operates Green Rigg Wind Farm 450 metres from the Waterfalls park boundary.
The company says a number of “procedural issues” including agricultural holding, landscaping and access have not been properly resolved in the planning application.
And they say that noise from the wind farm – which was given planning permission earlier this year but is not yet fully operational – means Mr Walker must take into account the effect of that noise on any new development.
But the 25-year-old Northumberland-born entrepreneur said: “It’s taken me by surprise because effectively they are saying they are having a negative impact on the area.
“At the end of the day, I am building on my land and the fact is that I have been told my residential amenity will not be adversely affected.
“It’s basically David and Goliath – they think they can do what they like where they like.”
Mr Walker’s original plans for Waterfalls Holiday Park included 18 holiday chalets, three cottages, a 16-horse equestrian centre and carriage house, a lake, fitness suite, restaurant, swimming pool, sauna, shop and combined heat and power plant.
The scheme, expected to create 106 construction jobs and 67 full-time posts, would have injected £2m a year into the local economy, he says.
It also won the backing of naturalist David Bellamy, local organisations and 330 individual supporters.
But the county council turned down the plans on the basis of visual impact – the issue upon which Mr Walker is taking the case to appeal in Hexham in February.
Wind Prospect Developments also objected to that plan, which was refused in June, but Mr Walker added: “I am optimistic about the appeal.
“I believe we should be promoting tourism in Northumberland and the Waterfalls development would have given that a major boost. If I win the appeal, the smaller development would be part of that. But we should be looking to boost tourism here.
“Kielder is looking to increase visitor numbers and this would have helped do that, but it is being made difficult.”