TIME is running out to have your first say about the future development of Morpeth and its surrounding parishes.
Public consultation on the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan’s Issues and Options document draws to a close at the end of the month and while hundreds have responded, those involved are urging residents who have yet to do so to fill out the questionnaires.
It covers a range of subjects – including housing, transport, sports, arts and leisure, economy and the environment – and input from a large number of people will help the steering group members when they come up with some initial proposals to go out to consultation next spring.
County councillor for Stobhill, Ian Lindley, asked for the deadline to be put back, but this was rejected by the steering group.
Its chairman, Coun Ken Brown, said: “To be an effective community-led plan, we need to get a clear idea of local community priorities, so we are pleased that we have had hundreds of responses to both the short and main questionnaires.
“However, I would urge residents, if they haven’t already done so, to complete one or both of the surveys. The more people that respond, the stronger the plan becomes.
“As this is the first stage (Issues and Options), it’s not the end of our engagement with residents and if we put back the deadline it would delay the process. We don’t want this because even before a referendum, the new plan will be helpful in fighting inappropriate planning applications.”
Meanwhile, Coun Lindley and fellow county councillor Glen Sanderson, whose ward includes Hepscott, have called on residents in their areas to say that one of the ideas put forward, a new road between Stobhill and Loansdean, should not be included in the neighbourhood plan.
“Such a road would blight the live of residents, eat up much-loved green space and continue the creeping urbanisation of Morpeth,” said Coun Lindley.
“It would also increase the likelihood of hundreds of houses being built in this locality.
“I must stress, however, that overall, the plan will be good for Morpeth once its flaws are ironed out.”
Coun Sanderson added: “The current form of the plan may leave a huge area of land south of the A196 outside the green belt.
“Only green-belt status can protect the town’s natural boundary (the A196) and prevent potentially hundreds – even thousands – of homes appearing on this land.”