Inquiry told of fears over caravan park; Bid could be 'catalyst' for larger site.
FAMILIES in a seaside village fear approval for a controversial caravan site expansion will just be the start of a much bigger holiday park development in their picturesque community.
Locals in 88-home Cresswell near Druridge Bay are fighting a bid for 350 more caravans and new leisure facilities at the hamlet's Golden Sands park - claiming they are already under siege from summer holidaymakers.
A public inquiry is being held this week into an appeal by the park's owner, Northumbrian Leisure, against Castle Morpeth Council's decision to refuse planning permission for the scheme.
Yesterday local people's objections to any further holiday caravans in the hamlet were spelled out to Planning Inspector Keith Dur-rant by Jean Scott, who chairs Cresswell
Parish Council. In 2004 a previous bid by Northumbrian Leisure for a pounds 15m investment in Golden Sands, involving 1,350 caravans, was withdrawn following a storm of protests by residents and later replaced by the current application.
Yesterday Mrs Scott said: "This application, for 350 extra caravans on a green field, agricultural site, is only one third the size of the original application. If given the go ahead, we feel sure it will be the catalyst for further submissions. This is probably a good project but Cresswell is definitely the wrong location. We who live here are the custodians of a wonderful coastline and we need to protect it so that it may be here for future generations who are not yet born."
Cresswell already has more than 700 caravans at the village's Golden Sands and Cress- well Towers holiday parks and most locals say no more should be allowed.
Yesterday Mrs Scott said the 220 permanent residents found themselves outnumbered more than ten to one by caravanners, as well as tourists and day visitors, during the summer months. She said: "Cyclists, walkers and other tourists all come to enjoy what we have here - sand, sea and open space. Those who live on the caravan sites are not tourists but residents."
Chartered surveyor Robert Barrs, a caravan park industry expert giving evidence for Northumbrian Leisure, said the expansion would allow Golden Sands to open up to a wider customer base and avoid losing business to other parks which had been allowed to modernise.
The hearing continues today.
PLANNING INQUIRY: Subject of a public inquiry - plans to expand the Golden Sands caravan park at Cresswell, Northumberland.