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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Bellingham village notes

GOOD news on Bellingham’s most enduring eyesore, the sad and forbidding mart field. BIKES, beer and bands dominate this weekend in Bellingham, with the three-day Bellingham Beer Festival at the town hall, with live music, sharing the spotlight with the Bellingham Bike Fest, successor to the old Bellingham Blast.

I’m told that there will be a new planning application for the site before the end of the year, which would see it transformed from the present run down prisoner of war camp to more housing.

There have been a number of false dawns since the mart closed a decade ago, with builders Yuill gaining consent to build 75 homes on the five-acre site in 2005.

Following a public outcry that the village infrastructure could not cope with so many new homes, a second application was submitted for 57 homes.

They were never built, and in 2007, there was a further application for 65 homes from a firm called Gladedale that got no further than the architect’s drawings.

The derelict site, known as Ground Zero, was fenced off years ago to discourage the depredations of feral children, but it remains an embarrassment to the village, and particularly to owners Hexham and Northern Marts.

However, I am led to believe that the scheme is on the move again, following the mart’s successful application to build 112 houses at Craneshaugh on the outskirts of Hexham.

The directors can now turn their attentions back to Bellingham – let’s hope to good effect.

THE village was buzzing over the weekend with lots of tourists, many of them no doubt dropping in to the community fair, which I hear went very well.

Many of them were caravanners, both from Brown rigg and the Hareshaw Linn site, and it has to be said they do a lot for the economy of the village.

The hustle and bustle provided a foretaste of what’s to come, in a couple of weeks, when Brownriggers from all over the planet descend on the village for their biennial reunion.

People are coming from America, New Zealand and Canada, as well as all parts of Britain.

In addition to a get together, there will be a barbecue at Brownrigg, a concert in the town hall and a special Sunday service at St Cuthbert’s church.

It is unclear at this stage whether there will be nude swimming in the Tyne , as apparently used to be the case!

YOU have to hand it to the good folk of Greenhaugh – they certainly know how to have a good time!

After rocket launches and the like, the bogie race through the village has become a popular feature in the Bank Holiday Monday calendar.

It has a flavour of the old Bellingham Raft Race which used to keep people away from the County Show, but without the water.

This year’s event was a triumph of engineering, enthusiasm and grazed elbows, as the doughty home-made craft hurtled down the bank at dizzying speeds, shedding wheels and occupants at regular intervals.

There were categories for furthest distance travelled, cause of most hilarity, best design, most original and best sport.

It was a wonderful day, with many spectators and drivers in 20s garb, and the Hollybush pub had a great day too.

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