Plans to create 'best log cabin park in the country' in Cloughton put on hold over safety concerns

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An ambition to extend the conversion of a former North York Moors sawmill into “the best log cabin park in the country” to meet demand for a post-lockdown boom in staycations has been put on hold following claims it would create a “death trap” on an A-road and explosive confrontations between shooting enthusiasts and tourists.

The North York Moors National Park Authority’s planning committee agreed to postpone a decision on Cloughton Wood Lodges Limited’s proposal to build high-quality accommodation for up to 120 people near Cloughton after hearing a litany of concerns that the scale of the scheme would impact on road safety and increase light pollution near the recently designated Dark Skies Reserve.

The committee was told the holiday park would bolster the local economy at a crucial time, particularly as it was close to the heritage coast, the Cinder Track former railway line between Whitby and Scarborough and the A171 coast road.

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Applicant John Purcell said benefits of the expanded holiday park, from which stag and hen parties would be discouraged from visiting, would include improved biodiversity.

The main road into Cloughton.The main road into Cloughton.
The main road into Cloughton.

He said: “The Government is positively promoting these sorts of facilities and are keen to open up the country to more people. Visitors will be able to stay at this park and explore the North York Moors, the heritage coastline and everything in the area.”

However, members heard Adrian Legg, an owner of 98 acres of commercial woodland to the north of the site, believed while the holiday park was highlighting public footpaths in the neighbouring woods as a resource for its guests, increasing visitor numbers raised potential dangers from seasonal timber operations and sporting activities involving the regular use of firearms.

Member Colin Williamson said: “There is concern from people living in the patch about the shooting facilities. If there’s shooters and holidaymakers on the same site then it’s going to be a big conflict.”

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Members were told the most controversial element of the scheme had seen numerous people dispute the conclusions of North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department, which had raised no objections provided lanes to slow and turn into the site were added.

The meeting heard Tom Chadwick, chairman of North York Moors Association, had described the site’s entrance as “a death trap, even with changes to the layout”.

The meeting was told the site was regarded by locals as an accident black spot following a number of fatal crashes close to the site at a time the it was a sawmill and there were low numbers of vehicles visiting.

Secretary of state appointed member Bob Marley said he had visited the proposed site entrance with a police traffic officer who described the plans as “a bad accident waiting to happen” and major road restructuring would be required to ensure safety.

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He said: “When that road is closed, and I have been responsible for it, you’re looking at a five-hour closure for an accident. And they do happen along that road within a mile of the entrance, there’s been very serious accidents, some deaths, some just serious.”

After members proposed visiting the site to examine the entrance issues, the authority’s director of planning Chris France said the site had previously approved uses for tourism and accommodation for Sirus Minerals’ mine workers.

He said: “I think we need to have some trust in the county council as the highway experts. We are straying into the realms of almost unreasonable behaviour here.”

Ahead of members agreeing to visit the site to examine the plans, Malcolm Bowes, the authority’s deputy chairman, said road safety and other concerns over the scale of the plans remained and a more modest proposal was needed at the site.