Council approves lasting tribute to rugby player | 08 October 09

A LASTING tribute to Tynedale Rugby Club player Ali Johnson can now be built after plans to transform Ali’s specially designed bungalow into a holiday home for people with disabilities were approved.

Ali was left paralysed from the neck down whilst playing in a match for Tynedale in September 2004.

Funds raised by players, friends and family were put towards developing a specially adapted bungalow for Ali at his parents’ farm at Haltwhistle, Northumberland.

The then Tynedale Council eventually gave the go-ahead for the bungalow to be built in November 2007 after revised plans were drawn up with the help of Newcastle-based law firm Ward Hadaway, who provided their expert legal help on a pro-bono basis.

Sadly, Ali died in December 2008 before the development could be completed.

Now Northumberland County Council has approved plans from the trustees of Ali Johnson’s estate and his family to turn the bungalow into a holiday retreat for other spinal injury victims amongst others.

Ward Hadaway helped to draw up the plans with head of the firm’s chartered town planners Andrew Moss again working on a pro-bono basis.

Andrew said: “This is fantastic news for Ali’s family and everyone who has been involved in this project.

“The application to the council was to vary three conditions of the original planning consent in order to allow people who suffer from similar injuries to Ali the chance to get a very welcome break in the beautiful Tynedale countryside.

“Thanks to the decision by planning officers at Northumberland County Council, work to transform the bungalow – complying with the conditions attached to the planning permission - can now go ahead.

“This will really be a lasting tribute to Ali and I am glad that we at Ward Hadaway have had a chance to play a small part in it.”