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Villages unite to fight leisure plan.

Byline: By Dave Black

Families in three neighbouring villages have joined forces to step up a protest campaign against pounds 15m plans to create a huge holiday caravan complex on the Northumberland coastline.

Residents of Cresswell, Ellington and Lynemouth have come together for the first time to co-ordinate opposition to the plan, which they say will result in the area being engulfed by caravans and invaded by thousands of extra holidaymakers in summer.

Campaigners say the quiet, rural character of their communities will be destroyed, there will be added problems of noise, litter and disturbance, green fields and wildlife will be harmed and roads in the three villages will be hit by a big increase in traffic.

A public meeting in Ellington on Thursday night was attended by almost 200 people from the three villages and they are planning to set up a formal action group to fight the bid by Northumbrian Leisure to add a further 1,340 caravans to the 250-van Golden Sands holiday park in Cresswell.

Villagers in 84-home Cresswell, next to Druridge Bay, say the village is already swamped in summer by more than 600 caravans at two separate parks and want Castle Morpeth Council to reject the plans.

One of the meeting's organisers was part-time dance teacher Michelle Robinson, who moved to Cresswell from London with her husband and children Ryan, seven, Amber, six, and Carmilena, three, last year.

She said: "We are from this area originally and moved back to Cresswell for the improved quality of life and serenity it offers the children. To have more than 1,000 extra holiday caravans imposed on us will be like having a small town attached to the village and will completely change it.

"It will mean more than 1,000 extra cars on local roads and anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 more residents next door to us in peak season.

"We will now be lobbying Castle Morpeth councillors to refuse planning permission for the expansion and organising rallies or exhibitions to raise awareness of the campaign."

But Northumbrian Leisure says the pounds 15m holiday village will create 120 jobs and provide a major boost for the local economy and tourism.

The first phase envisages adding an extra 300 static caravans, new shops, a swimming pool and sports and leisure facilities to the existing park.

The full project involves an additional 1,100 caravans and some holiday chalets on 200 acres of land between Cresswell and Ellington.

Northumbrian Leisure boss Nigel Thompson, who lives in Cresswell, says any disadvantages will be far outweighed by the advantages of his ambitious plans, which also include a boating lake at the heart of a wildlife area.

He said: "I want to create a high-quality, Center Parcs-style development, but one that will also be open to people in the area. At the moment, there is nothing in the way of leisure facilities."

A spokesman for Castle Morpeth Council said it was hoped that a decision on the firm's application would be made in May.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 17, 2004
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