Battle over Seahouses play park changes comes to a head

Families have questioned plans to change a play area near their homes almost 20 years after plans were agreed.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 12:35 pm
Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.

A battle over the family play area is expected to be resolved this week, with county bosses advised to side with house builders.

Plans for 77 homes on the south eastern edge of Seahouses were approved 19 years ago, with developers agreeing to provide a public open space with activity equipment to sweeten the deal.

But a renewed application to change the area of open space, while maintaining its overall size, has prompted questions from neighbours over why the move has been attempted after almost two decades.

Currently, the site runs roughly east to west, parallel with Mitchell Avenue.

The latest proposal would see it ‘re-orientated’, to run north to south, along the edge of the housing estate.

According to joint applicants Northumbria Leisure and Granger Homes, there is ‘some ambiguity as to the ownership of the path that has been constructed’ to access the space.

Plans insist the change would ‘provide clarity’ for users, with Northumberland County Council’s planning department agreeing the proposals would also provide better separation between housing and the coast, as well as improved ‘passive surveillance’ from nearby properties.

Families living nearby have been less convinced however, with at least 20 formal objections submitted to the local authority.

As well as questioning the need for the change after so many years, representations have also raised concerns about maintenance of the site, claiming poor upkeep has prevented some from using it.

Developers have paid out at least £7,900 in maintenance contributions since the original plans were approved in 2002.

Concerns have been backed by North Sunderland Parish Council which said in a statement: “[The parish council is] very concerned about this proposal and feel that the agreement should remain as it is.

“Berwick Council [which was responsible for planning applications in the area up to 2009] agreed to this and received money for the original proposal and agreed to take over the play park, so surely the land is now owned by the [county] council.”

Following a request by county councillor for Bamburgh Guy Renner-Thompson, the application is set to be debated at Thursday’s (June 24) meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.