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Embleton's 'open views' saved in landmark ruling

Embleton from fields west of Station Road Embleton from fields west of Station Road Les Ashworth

 In early April of this year...

...CPRE Northumberland received a request for help from Margaret Watchorn, a resident of Embleton, on behalf of a group of villagers which included leading figures in the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. Our Treasurer, Les Ashworth, and Acting Chair, Colin Adsley, duly set out to visit and were warmly greeted by the group before being shown around the village.

Embleton has a compact shape, bounded by two through roads, and sits about a mile inland of Dunstanburgh Castle in pleasant countryside. Villagers are justly proud of their village and its setting, and of their close-knit but welcoming and inclusive community spirit.

But there were threats to their idyll. Two applications had been lodged with county council planners, one sited between the village and the sea, the other in-filling a field to the west which gives fine pastoral views towards open countryside and offers walks via a well-used public footpath. If both applications were successful, Embleton would lose at a stroke two of its most precious natural assets.

It needs to be said that Embleton has never opposed additional housing and had earmarked land to the north of the village for this. Fifty new homes had come from two new developments, one providing much valued social housing. Of over thirty properties sold in the other development, however, some are used for holiday lets and others are not permanently occupied. It is significant that there has been only one new admission to the village school from these.

CPRE Northumberland has long drawn attention to the harmful effects of over-development in our villages, especially where schemes involve large houses with two-car garages located on approach roads, which effectively alter the character of the village by a creeping process of semi-urbanisation. We therefore wrote letters of objection to both applications.

Within a few weeks, one application was withdrawn and the other sent for decision by councillors.

At a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council on 21 June, councillors agreed with the advice of the Planning Officer and rejected the application as 'an incursion into open countryside' which would 'impact upon the open views over surrounding countryside which are afforded from the site'.

In a letter telling us about the events of the day, Margaret wrote, 'It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I wanted to let you know that on Thursday councillors agreed unanimously to refuse planning permission for the Station Road site on the grounds that it represented an intrusion into the countryside and would fundamentally change the landscape character of the village of Embleton.'

She gave us an update on progress with the Neighbourhood Plan, and other events in the village, before rounding off, 'Many thanks again for your support; I'll keep you posted!'

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