Legal threat over £2million cliff-top caravan park between Sunderland and Seaham

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A BUSINESSMAN is considering legal action against town leaders after they endorsed a proposed cliff-top caravan park before apparently turning against it.

John Noble says he has spent around £25,000 to prepare the planning application on the £2million holiday development between Seaham and Ryhope, which is owned by farmer Colin Snowdon.

He says he would not have spent the money had Seaham Town Council not supported the proposal three years ago.

The plans, which follow two applications for similar developmentd, sets out how around 100 caravan pitches could be set out on the site, off the B1287.

Durham County Council’s county planning committee have been recommended to refuse the application on the grounds it is an inappropriate development, would cause harm to the green belt and the application has failed to show it would not have an adverse impact on nature.

The report states the town council “strongly objects” on grounds of impact on the heritage coast, the fact it will be sited on a green belt and its potential impact on wildlife.

Mr Noble says he can now only wait and see if the committee will go along with the officers’ recommendation, which would mean losing his investment.

He said: “Originally, in 2010, when we approached Seaham Town Council, we had the support of Seaham Town Council. The council has withdrawn its support, even though we got it in writing in 2010.

“We’ve spent £25,000 on this planning application, with the costs of all the tests, architects and solicitors’ fees.

“I think it would be an incredible thing for the town. There was a £2million investment ready to be made into that site with a number of jobs. It would be good for the local economy.

“I’m very disappointed they have such a negative attitude, when they are working to improve Seaham. It would have brought tourists. It would have been a first-class facility with first-class holiday homes.

“It’s a ploughed field, and it doesn’t make any sense.

“It makes even less sense that Seaham Town Council refused it after giving us a letter signed in 2010.

“I’m very angry about it, and I’m considering legal action. I will be talking to my lawyers if this is refused.

“There should be some recompense.”

A spokesman for the town council confirmed that it initially supported the plans, subject to conditions, but with the passing of time and a change in its membership, opinions had changed.

In the 2010 letter, the park was seen as an asset. However, the location was now considered more strongly, along with the impact on the coast and wildlife.

Natural England, the RSPB, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Seaham Environmental Association and Durham Heritage Coast have also objected.

The committee will meet at 2pm tomorrow at County Hall.