Apartment plans for derelict care home

An image of how the Howard Castle apartment development could look.
An image of how the Howard Castle apartment development could look.

A well-known Morpeth building that has stood derelict for two years could be demolished to make way for luxury apartments.

Plans have been submitted to pull down the former Howard Castle care home in Dacre Street and replace it with three blocks of flats.

I would like to think that in later years my kids can walk past and proudly say ‘my old man built that’.

Sean Pringle, applicant.

Builder Sean Pringle says the scheme will be high quality, using traditional features to fit in with the character of the area.

But there has been criticism that it will spell the end for another of Morpeth’s prominent buildings.

Mr Pringle, who runs family business Pringle Building Services, said: “I live in Morpeth, in a house that was built for the Swinneys, and I have spent three years restoring it. People are saying that it will be a national developer coming in that won’t care about Morpeth and its buildings, but I live 200 metres from the site.

“I’m a family man with four children in Morpeth. It matters more to me that the building looks right than to anybody else. I would like to think that it would stand the test of time in the same way that the house I’m in has.

“It will have a lot of architectural features that will complement the surrounding area. I have done a lot of research locally on architectural details and I’m stealing some of the detail ideas from my own property to put into the building.

“I would like to think that in later years my kids can walk past and proudly say ‘my old man built that’.”

The two-and-a-half storey development would provide 16 apartments, with a new gated vehicular entrance off Dacre Street and 28 residents’ parking bays.

The existing dwarf stone wall on the southern boundary will be replaced with a brick one, with stone coping and iron railings, and shrub and hedge planting is proposed.

Mr Pringle, who has informed residents in Dacre Street, Howard Terrace and Maritime Place about his plans, said that it would not be possible to retain the existing building.

“I have to demolish the building that is there, it is not salvageable. If I could have saved it I would, but it is not practical,” he said.

“At the moment it is derelict. The vandals have got in and kicked holes in the roof and stolen the copper and lead. It is owned by people from outside the area now. I live 200 metres away so naturally I care what happens to it.”

However, Morpeth town councillor David Clark says there is concern in the community about losing Howard Castle.

“This will be another old building gone, and there have been an awful lot of comments about it,” he said.

“It will be replaced with what is a fairly generic design now in Morpeth that we see popping up all over. It only pays lip-service to the architecture that went before.

“This site is very visible from Dacre Street. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of people will know the building because people used to go there to pay their council rent.

“It is an awful shame that the facade couldn’t be incorporated into the development.”

Mr Pringle is planning to hold an exhibition to show his plans as soon as architects’ impressions are complete.