A CONTENTIOUS planning application for a 45-foot high salt dome for a small village has been approved.

The dome, which will sit on land at the Northumberland County Council’s highways depot in Otterburn, was approved by 15 votes to one at Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the authority’s strategic planning committee.

However, residents have hit out at plans, which they believe will blight the surroundings.

Steven Paknoham, of Sunnybrae, Otterburn, said: “I, like others, am disgusted that this has been approved and do not intend to take it lying down.

“I feel particularly disappointed that the council did not seem in any way willing to enter into any form of communication with the objectors and appeared to be hell bent on approving this application right from the start. Unfortunately, I, as well as fellow objectors, raised many queries about this application and did not receive a single satisfactory response.

“My house has stood on this site for over 200 years and it is an insult that its heritage, appeal, and value is dramatically reduced by the construction of the most appalling of structures directly adjacent to it. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is criminal.”

He added: “The village of Otterburn has lost some of its tarnish and the council have lost all of my confidence. I intend to appeal the decision and I also intend to employ a legal advisor to see if there is a way out of this.”

Mr Paknoham and his family now plan to sell their home, of two years, following unsuccessful bids to buy the land from the council and offers to regenerate the land for recreational, community use.

Coun John Riddle, the local ward member, also spoke out against the scheme, saying that while he fully understood the need to store road salt, he also believed that sites away from villages should be used. “I think the scale is unacceptable in that location”, he added.

The committee heard that other possible sites had been considered, but were found to be unsuitable with Otterburn’s location key for access to A696 and A68.

Director of planning Rob Murfin said there was no need for a “sequential test” to prove this site was the most suitable and councillors were encouraged to focus on the site at hand.

However, Mr Paknoham claimed residents in Allendale, where a similar structure had been erected, were also forced from their homes.

He said: “Nobody wants to live next to that, it belongs in an industrial estate.”