FARMER Aidan Harrison peers from his back garden across an unspoiled view of rolling green fields.
But the picturesque vista, which featured on hit detective show Vera, is soon to be occupied by 65 new red brick houses.
8Aidan Harrison’s idyllic view is about to vanishCredit: NNP
8The site of the new homes marked in redCredit: NNPShaking his head, the 73-year-old tells The Sun: “I think it’s outrageous to allow a housing development to be thrown up in the middle of all that beauty – but no one is going to tell me I’m a Nimby.”
Residents of Thropton, a village nestled at the foot of the Simonside Hills in Northumberland’s Coquet Valley, are about to see their lives transformed.
The medieval hamlet, developed in the Victorian era to provide homes for farmers and their workers, will see its population increase by around 40 per cent thanks to a housing development dubbed “Legoland” that it’s now too late to stop.
Objectors took a minibus on the 80-mile round trip to Berwick to voice their fury at the decisive planning meeting, only to see the decision rubber stamped by Northumberland County Council.
It means a large swathe of land at the north end of the village will be built on, changing the peaceful settlement forever.
Supporters say it will breathe new life into the village, encouraging young people to stay instead of travelling south to Newcastle to find houses they can afford.
Critics are horrified, claiming the village road system andinfrastructure can’t support the influx, and that the houses are an ugly blot on an otherwise perfect landscape.
Aidan, born at Rothbury Cottage Hospital in the next village along the valley, has worked the land in this remote corner of Northumberland all his life.
8A rendering of what one of the homes on the development will look likeCredit: NNP8Residents say the brick houses will be out of character with the quaint villageCredit: AlamyHe says: “It is a fabulous landscape, it’s special and it should have been allowed to remain that way.
“Those of us who object – and there are many – get called Nimbies, but I don’t care about my own backyard. What I care about is the beautiful landscape that surrounds this village and preserving it for future generations.
“I’m not getting any younger myself but I’d like to leave this place pretty much as I found it, because once it has gone, it’s gone forever. There’s no going back.
“But no one at the planning authority seemed to care. They wanted these houses, and we now have to accept they’re going to be built whether we like it or not.
“It will be so jarring to see these red brick houses thrown up at the edge of a village built in stone by the Victorians. They couldn’t have made it look more out of character if they had tried to.”
It will be so jarring to see these red brick houses thrown up at the edge of a village built in stone by the Victorians. They couldn’t have made it look more out of character if they had triedAidan Harrison, local farmer
Aidan’s neighbour Margaret Adams, 70, agrees.
“If it had been inside the national park I don’t think itwould have been approved,” she tells The Sun.
“But these houses will be seen very clearly from the Simonside Hills, which are in the national park.
“People come here to get away from urban developments, and they’re throwing one up anyway without a thought about the ecology of the area or the infrastructure.
“With the houses will come much, much more traffic. At one end of the village is a hump-backed bridge which can only allow one car at a time to cross.
8The village has a hump-back bridge where only one car can cross at a timeCredit: NNP
“With the village growing by 40 per cent, how will the roads cope with the traffic? They will have to commute because there are no jobs to be had here, so we can expect things to be chaotic.
“It will ruin a beautiful part of the world and the views of the local people were never considered in the rush to push this through.
“I’m now a proud nimby, I don’t apologise for that, I’m perfectly happy to admit it.
I’m now a proud nimby, I don’t apologise for that, I’m perfectly happy to admit itMargaret Adams, local resident
“I got very angry at the planning meeting and wrote an open letter telling the councillors involved that they were complacent and responsible for appalling house building all over our glorious Northumberland countryside.
“The county councillor wrote back and said my comments were tiresome, offensive and ill-judged – so that says everything about how much our opinions were valued.”
When the plans were first mooted in 2013, former local authority chief executive Maurice Cole threw himself into leading objections.
Mr Cole died last year, still engaged in a losing battle with the planners.
His widow Christine, 79, says: “He was quite correct that thisdevelopment is completely wrong for Thropton, but unfortunately it is happening regardless.
8Christine Cole believes the development is ‘completely wrong’ for the areaCredit: NNP”We have all these red brick boxes about to be squeezed into the fields at the edge of the village, they couldn’t look more out of place.
“And what I wonder is, where will it stop? There are houses being built on two neighbour sites, what’s to stop them opening another and another?
“The roads are in a poor enough condition as it is, but with all these houses coming that’s going to get much worse. I don’t see how the village school can cope with such an influx either.
“It was a very sad day for the village and the area when these plans were passed.”
The plans received 45 objections from local residents, citingover-development and the impact on schools and other local facilities.
Thropton Parish Council also objected and said it would be a”disproportionate increase in the size of the village”.
The parish council’s objection added: “The appearance of the housing is of great concern as we have a responsibility for the future to ensure that what makes Northumberland scenic and attractive to visitors is maintained. This includes local tourism and recreation for adjacent urban areas.”
‘Good for business’
8Landlord George Yule reckons the new homes will help the villageCredit: NNPAt the village pub, the Three Wheat Heads, landlord George Yule, 52, isn’t complaining too much.
He says: “It’s bound to bring in trade so obviously I have nocomplaints at all about that. I think in many ways it will bring new life into the village and probably a lot of younger people.
“So from a business point of view I’m very happy to support the development.”
He stops and looks round at a Northumbria Water worker carrying out an inspection of the village’s drains.
George continued: “But when you look at the drains and the roads and the school it does make you wonder how much pressure that many people coming into the village will place on the infrastructure. It’s a lot of people.”
Author Tom Dean, 91, is also happy with the plans, admitting: “Nowhere can stay exactly the same forever.
“This is a lovely village in a beautiful part of the world and to have some new and maybe younger people here can’t be a bad thing to my mind.”
Stewart Rogers, 75, is a partner with Valley View Developments, the company which obtained planning permission on behalf of the owner of the land.
He says builders will be breaking ground on the site as early as May this year and admits the plan has been divisive.
This is a lovely village in a beautiful part of the world and to have some new and maybe younger people here can’t be a bad thing to my mindTom Dean, local author
Mr Rogers says: “I’ve come in for quite a bit of flak myself and Iknow this has not been popular with some people around this village.
“But if you are someone who would rather see young people leave the village than have the view from your living room window spoiled, then something is surely wrong.
“We need to provide affordable housing for young people and villages likes this one can’t simply stay the same, with its population getting older and older.
“There has to be change and new life and new people to keep villages like Thropton thriving for the next generation.”
Northumberland County Council has been approached for comment.
8Stewart Rogers says he’s had flak after agreeing to let the development be built on his landCredit: NNPVillage link to hit detective showThe picturesque views around Thropton featured in detective show Vera.
The hamlet’s neighbouring village of Rothbury was used in a series two episode called Silent Voices in which a social worker drowned.
Vera producer Margaret Mitchell said she was struck by the views around Rothbury – where the news homes will now be built.
She says: “This is where we filmed the wild water swimmer.
“We arrived very early in the morning, on an October day when it was very misty. The sun was rising and shone through the water – that was particularly beautiful. It’s a great place for walking.
“When you’re here, you’re completely struck by the expansive land, the light and the skies.
“You can see the vast panorama of countryside, the light just fills your eyes. It’s incredible.”
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk