Barn at Beal facing refusal of signs bid a third time

The Barn at Beal visitor attraction in Northumberland is facing refusal of a bid for signs for a third time

The Barn at Beal, an attraction created by Rodney Smith
The Barn at Beal, an attraction created by Rodney Smith

A tourist attraction in Northumberland which has fought a lengthy battle for signs to draw in visitors looks set to be knocked back again.

The Barn at Beal near Holy Island has sought since 2008 to be allowed to have signs in an effort to increase the number of people visiting, with two applications and two planning appeals knocked back.

Tomorrow night, county councillors are being recommended to refuse the attraction’s third bid, despite support from local councillors and residents, amid claims they would pose a safety risk and be an “intrusive addition to an otherwise natural landscape.”

The attraction, run by Beal farmer Rod Smith and based on the road to Holy Island, aims to give visitors an insight into the farming industry.

In 2008, Mr Smith applied to the now defunct Berwick Borough Council for permission for roadside sides on his own land.

With the council dragging its heels on making a decision, the farmer went ahead and put the signs up, not wanting to miss out on visitors over the tourist season.

That November, the council rejected the attraction’s proposal, although Mr Smith refused to take the signs down. An appeal was lodged but dismissed, with the farmer having to remove them.

The farmer was later refused retrospective planning permission for a sign in a cart at the side of the A1 by Northumberland County Council, sparking another appeal. Again he lost.

Mr Smith’s third bid seeks advertisement consent for three signs on the A1.

Kyloe Parish Council has raised no objection and according to county council papers “would like to see this application approved.”

The same report adds: It is a business which serves both locals and tourism. These are well designed signs to direct people to

the Barn at Beal.”

A further ten letters of support have been lodged with the county council, with their authors saying the signs are well designed and in keeping with the area, claiming the attraction provides employment for local people and supports local tourism.

They furthermore say the signs would not compromise road safety or be distracting for drivers but would improve safety by clearly directing drivers.

County council highways officers have raised no objections.

However, the Highways Agency has objected to one of the signs, claiming it “would be a safety concern and un-necessary.”

Planning officers are recommending refusal of the application on the basis that two of the signs would “substantially harm the amenity of the area through being an intrusive addition to an otherwise natural landscape.”

They also say one of the signs would “substantially harm public safety through creating a distraction for drivers on the A1 Trunk Road.”

The council’s North area planning committee will decide the application tomorrow night.

Mr Smith declined to comment ahead of the meeting.

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