Approval for bigger unit despite concerns

Coun John Beynon.
Coun John Beynon.

A retrospective bid to extend a building at Coopies Lane Industrial Estate in Morpeth has been given the green light, despite the owner of the unit next to it saying he is unable to access his premises on many occasions due to vehicles blocking the way.

The variation of condition application at Coopies Haugh – Unit 3, site 17B – was to seek approval for an increase in width of the industrial storage building by 1.5 metres.

Planning permission for the unit was granted in June 2015 under delegated powers.

The latest bid went before members of Northumberland County Council’s Castle Morpeth Local Area Council at a meeting last week.

Planning officer Geoff Horsman said the increase of the unit was not significant and would not result in overdevelopment of the site.

In terms of access, he said: “In order to safeguard access to the neighbouring unit, conditions should be attached to ensure around 50 per cent of the building is kept free for parking, that no parking takes place in the area between the two buildings on site other than for loading/unloading purposes and that the two vehicle doors to the south elevation of the building incorporate roller shutter doors, not doors that open outwards over the space between the two buildings.”

In his objection, Mr Wilson said that he was not notified of the original application for the unit and this was why he did not raise concerns with the county council at the time.

At the council meeting, a statement was read out by his brother, Malcolm Wilson, on his behalf.

It included the following: ‘We would implore this committee to defer this application to undertake an investigation into the gross failings in administration, decision making and consultation that have led to a recommendation for approval that throws out the national 1APP minimum standards of information to validate an application, along with all reasonable planning principles of highways standards and safety, overdevelopment and impact on adjoining properties.

‘We would suggest the committee should satisfy itself of its legal position if after representations to the contrary, an application is approved that has such a major effect on the adjoining owners and the ability to safely run a business from the unit.’

Although the statement also said that the issues of access and potential breach of ownership boundaries ‘should not be dismissed as a civil matter’, the county council officers at the meeting reaffirmed their stance that they were a civil matter when asked by Coun Richard Wearmouth.

Stobhill councillor John Beynon was the one member to vote against the application. He said: “It was a strange decision to grant planning permission for the unit two years ago and I think we should defer this application to look at the issues raised in more detail.

“I have been up there quite a few times on business and most of the time you can’t get near the units because of the number of vehicles parked in the area.”

Coun David Bawn said: “I have sympathy for Mr Wilson’s position, but our hands are tied as we are bound by the planning permission for the unit and we are here today to determine the variation of condition application.”