What is CRAG?

The Caring for Rothbury Action Group is an emerging group of people who want to be more active in steering the development of Rothbury and surrounding area.

Set up in the spring of 2016, the group aims to contribute positively to improving the unique area of Rothbury.

It will examine all new planning applications for the area and assess public opinion regarding the need, suitability and impact of such development

As a major destination for visitors, CRAG will seek to preserve the rural feel and aesthetics of the area, as well as to examine and raise concerns of road safety, pollution (including light pollution), environmental issues and so on.

CRAG will also oppose all speculative development where there has been no explicit need identified.

Chair: Jan Deckers
Vice Chair: Martin Ayres
Treasurer: Jo Coulter
Secretary: Val Suckling

Caring for Rothbury Action Group

Last updated 26th February, 2017

Important update

Neighbourhood Planning came into force in 2011, through the Localism Bill. It gives us a unique opportunity to produce our own Neighbourhood Development Plan. Rothbury Parish Council, Thropton Parish Council, Cartington Parish Council and Whitton and Tosson Parish Council have joined together to produce this Plan. CRAG was co-opted by the Mid Coquetdale Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group.

Since the last community consultation in 2016 we have been working hard to draft a Neighbourhood Plan for the area. The Steering Group has listened to what community members have said, and have come up with a Vision for the Neighbourhood Area and 7 objectives that we think reflect what the community want, and which we think we can achieve through planning policies and community projects in the Neighbourhood Plan. With each objective, specific policy areas have been identified.

A Consultation Open Day has been organised on Saturday 11th March 2017 at Thropton Village Hall between 10am and 12pm and at Rothbury Jubilee Hall between 2pm and 4pm.

Other key updates:

1. The latest application that Northumberland Estates has submitted for Rothbury is for 11 holiday lodges (ref. 16/04231/FUL) on land south of Rothbury Golf Club. As before, CRAG has issued two formal objections via the public access site on NCC's planning portal. We encourage others to submit an electronic objection or to write to: The Central Registry Team, Development Management, Northumberland County Council, Planning Development, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF, (remembering to disclose your full name and address). The planning Committee will consider this application on 28 Feb 2017.

2. As many of you many know, the Northumberland Estates application for 9 dwellings along Hillside Road West (Ref: 16/01871/OUT) was approved at the NCC Planning Committee meeting on November 22nd (following a site visit the day before). Although this was not the desired outcome, conditions were set by members of the committee that may significantly reduce the likelihood of building going ahead. How these conditions are actually set out (and how effective a deterrent they turn out to be) remains to be seen. In any event, we would like to convey our sincere thanks to everyone who campaigned to raise awareness about the proposed development; to those who opposed the application and especially to the four families on Hillside West as well as to Josephine Ellis from Blue Kayak Planning (who they contracted) for all their extra efforts in opposing this application.

3. With respect to the decision made by NCC for the development of 57 houses on land south of Lordenshaw Drive and Silverton Lane (Ref: 14/03266/FUL), CRAG submitted two formal complaints to the Ombudsman against NCC’s Planning Committee, neither of which was upheld.

4. After our letter from the Duke, we received another letter from Mr Colin Barnes, who claimed that he/they would no longer be corresponding with us as he claimed that we had been disrespectful in our most recent letter, which referred to every application NE has made since their application to build 55 houses on land east of Whitton View (Ref:12/03191/FUL). We will of course be writing again to the Duke, but we are also preparing to approach the media again.

CRAG represents people who value the views of our community in relation to planning issues.

To do this on a local level, CRAG have joined the Steering Committee of the Mid Coquetdale Neighbourhood Development Plan. We need to protect basic things like the representation of views relating to the use of the land within and around Rothbury, our rate of expansion and the changes any such expansion could bring about. This includes the impact on the livelihoods of local people, including farmers who might be displaced, local shops and small businesses, as well as our general quality of life. We are also concerned that Northumberland County Council may have a significant conflict of interests with Northumberland Estates through running a joint business (Prudhoe Estates LLP).

On a wider level, we realise that great inequalities in power regarding land development and housing access exist right across Northumberland and the country as a whole.

CRAG organised its first meeting in the Jubilee Hall on 9 April 2016 and a public demonstration along Silverton Lane and the Lonnen on 14 May. The significance of this location is that it is on the settlement boundary for Rothbury under the planning rules of the Alnwick District Council. Recent approvals granted by Northumberland County Council allowed expansion of the village outside this boundary. Protesters held up copies of the Village Design Statement for Rothbury, which contains a map with this boundary as well as the statement that ‘the present village envelope should be maintained’ (p. 6, par. 2). Press coverage of the event can be found in the Northumberland Gazette, 15 May 2016.

We will continue to campaign for the interests of those who are against the imposition of inappropriate and unwanted speculative developments. To this end, we will also contact Anne-Marie Trevelyan again (following her promise to present our petition in Parliament in September 2016), pay close attention to the work of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (who added their objection to a recent application), and make efforts to link up with others within our own community as well as other affected communities around Northumberland.
We hope you will continue to offer your support, regardless of how close a proposed development may be to your own home. CRAG has made links with the Take Pride in Prudhoe Group and the Isleworth Park Road Allotments Association, and is calling out to members of other communities that may not have a fair say in how their communities develop. We believe that by coming together we can overcome the sense of powerlessness and exposure to unwanted impositions that many may have become accustomed to.

As ever, we welcome any feedback and indeed any suggestions you think may support our campaigns.

If you would like to add your weight and strength to our fast-growing pool of people power, please show your support by getting in touch, either by emailing: rothburycrag@outlook.com or by speaking to any of us: Jan Deckers (chair), Martin Ayres (vice-chair), Jo Coulter (treasurer), Val Suckling (secretary)

Please keep an eye open for updates on this website.

Silverton Lane

Saturday, 14th May 2016

Around 130 people turn up to demonstrate, and the local and national media took an interest.

The photos below show the line-up along the town boundary line, and some of the plackards (click the photos to see full-size).


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