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Friday, 22 May 2015

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Waterfalls developer may appeal

YOUNG entrepreneur Sherod Walker is considering his options this week after his ambitious plans for a luxury holiday complex were turned down.

Mr Walker (25) was shocked when Northumberland County Council's west area planning committee rejected the proposal he said would generate 67 full-time jobs and £1.7million a year for the local economy.

“I was very disappointed!” he said.

“We had worked on the plans for two and a half years and we had done everything to the nth degree – they were recommended for approval by the planning officers.

“We are talking about a £2million economic impact and a large number of jobs, not only in construction but also on the complex for generations to come.”

A former winner of the Hexham Courant young businessman of the year award and a One NorthEast ambassador for trade, Mr Walker wanted to develop the redundant Waterfalls Farm, 7km east of Bellingham.

The plans comprised 21 chalets and holiday cottages, an equestrian centre and facilities such as a restaurant, gym and swimming pool.

He pointed out none of the statutory consultees had objected, and the design had been commended by Northumberland County Council’s tourism and economic regeneration department, the Environment Agency and renowned botanist David Bellamy.

Two petitions signed by over 330 supporters – and not objectors, as reported last week – had also demonstrated public support for the application.

Tynedale born and bred, Mr Walker took issue with the planning committee’s decision that the scale of the development and the impact it would have on the surrounding area were unacceptable.

“If they are saying the location isn’t suitable, where in Northumberland is?

“Hadrian’s Wall is a World Heritage Site that brings in a lot of money, and we were providing discerning visitors the opportunity to experience what else Northumberland has to offer.

“We know what is needed out there in terms of tourism.”

Mr Walker and his team, which includes architects, planning lawyers and planning and tourism consultant Richard Spencer, are now considering whether to appeal.