£3m extra cost could cut number of homes

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THE number of affordable homes in a major new Morpeth development may have to be reduced due to an unexpected additional cost of £3million.

At the October meeting of Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee, members granted outline planning permission for 250 new homes on surplus land at Northgate Hospital in Fairmoor.

This was alongside full planning permission for the replacement of the low-security male forensic unit, Villa 19, and outline permission for the replacement of the Severe Autism Unit, with the funding for the improvements hinging on the residential development.

Members approved the plans, despite the proportion of affordable homes falling short of the usually-required 35 per cent as they felt the scheme was the only way Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust could raise the capital needed for the hospital improvements.

But now the number of affordable homes may be reduced as the Trust have been hit with an unexpected £3million bill for connecting the site to a new sewer.

At last Thursday’s meeting, committee members agreed to an alteration in the Section 106 agreement so that the Trust could carry out an appraisal after building the first 125 homes and if necessary reduce the number of affordable homes in the second 125 down to a minimum of 10 per cent (13 homes).

Coun David Moore said: “It’s a shame we have to have a 106 coming back again, but with the sudden additional cost I don’t think we have much choice.”

Coun David Woodard said there seemed to be ‘a lot of issues unresolved when we considered it eight weeks ago’, but that it seemed an ‘appropriate compromise’, given the decision made in October.