A NEW housing estate is being planned for the edge of Morpeth, providing 240 homes.
Bellway Homes North East has earmarked a site at Loansdean, which has been in the hands of the developer for a number of years.
The area is currently greenfield and lies outside the settlement boundary for Morpeth, but Bellway says its proposals would help to meet demand for new homes in the area.
And the developer has suggested that half the properties planned for the site could be affordable housing, possibly offered at discounted market rates to help young people onto the housing ladder.
A Bellway spokesman said: “The development will help satisfy demand for homes in Morpeth and provide a range of properties for people at different stages in the housing market.
“Arising from the development will be substantial education and transportation benefits for Morpeth.”
A range of housing is proposed, from apartments to five-bedroom detached family homes, with access to the estate off the A197.
Signet Planning has been commissioned to co-ordinate and submit a detailed planning application and will advise Bellway on issues such as highways, ecology, architecture and archaeology.
But concerns have been raised by local residents that the area is unsuitable for development as there is no infrastructure in place to support it, especially with building planned on such a large scale.
Southgate Wood resident David Holden said: “My main concern as a resident of the area is the lack of infrastructure that we have here and if we have another 240 homes, it is going to put more pressure on that infrastructure.
“There are no local shops, as I understand it the Morpeth schools are already full and everybody knows about the car parking problems in Morpeth.
“The Kylins development is under way and when all of those houses are sold it is going to increase the problems. If we then have all the houses proposed by Bellway, it is going to exacerbate those problems.”
Mr Holden is also alarmed at plans to build in open countryside and says there does not appear to be a need for more housing in the town.
“I would prefer it if we could develop the brownfield sites first.
“This area is green and building there would stretch the boundary of Morpeth closer to Clifton,” he said.
“There is a site at Goosehill that has planning permission, but it has not been realised yet. Those developers are obviously concerned about the market for houses.
“If there was a need for new houses then all of the houses built in Southgate Mews would be sold and they are not.
“I fail to see the demand for such a large development.
“There are 240 houses proposed, which will mean about 400 or 500 cars. That is just going to increase the parking problems in Morpeth. All of the people I have spoken to share these concerns.”
Morpeth town councillor Mark Horton, who lives in the area, said residents have approached him about the plans, but he is keeping an open mind.
“I’m aware of the proposal. As a resident, I have received all of the Bellway literature and I went to the open evening at Storey Park about it,” he said.
“At the moment, I’m keeping a fairly open mind on this and the council has Bellway coming to give us a presentation.
“Local residents are discussing the development plans and they are high on a lot of people’s agenda.”
Morpeth estate agent Charles Robinson said there is a demand for housing in the town.
“The market is tough, but Morpeth continues to do well with a lot of people still seeing it as the right place to live,” he said.
“That is brought about by demand for good schools. People are seeing a move to Morpeth as a means of securing a place in the Morpeth schools system.
“On top of that, the big advantage for Morpeth is the perfect balance between coast, countryside and city. Morpeth also retains a market town feel and it is the sort of place people look to live in.”
Bellway is still in talks with Northumberland County Council about its proposal and a planning application is likely to be submitted next month. However, the authority has confirmed that the site does lie outside the settlement boundary.
A council spokeswoman said: “Any application for development in such a location would be determined in accordance with the Castle Morpeth Borough Council Local Plan, whilst also having regard to national and regional planning policies and other material planning considerations.
“The current status of the land as set out in the Local Plan, adopted in February 2006, is that the land is not formally allocated for development and is classed as open countryside as it is outside of the existing settlement boundary for Morpeth.”