Approval for firm’s major proposal at former colliery site

A new bid for housing and retail provision on the former Ellington Colliery site is a step closer to fruition.

Harworth Estates Ltd’s outline application for up to 400 homes and a small-scale convenience store (up to 350 square metres) was given the go-ahead by members of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday.

The existing business centre will be retained as part of the proposal, with a scheme of works identified to improve the facilities on offer.

Full plans for two full-sized football pitches (FA standard) and a smaller pitch, which will be used by Ellington Juniors Football Club, were also approved.

A previous master plan for the land received planning permission a few years ago. It envisaged 300 houses, offices and work spaces for small and medium sized businesses and community facilities, but the applicant said it had to review the scheme because it was not currently viable.

Four residents submitted an objection and Ellington and Linton Parish Council was also against the proposal.

Its chairman, George Jackson, said members are not against housing development per se, as shown when they supported the previous master plan.

But this application was considered to have too many homes and the local first school would not be capable of absorbing additional pupils. The authority was unhappy that no extra business units would be provided.

Coun Jackson added: “There is a lack of affordable housing in this scheme and I would urge the committee to address this because these homes would be an important addition to the village.

“We also have concerns about the development’s impact on the sewerage system.”

Committee chairman Paul Kelly asked why the affordable housing level was just 2.5 per cent and senior planning officer John Dowsett said the proposal had to take into account the high remediation costs involved in bringing the site forward and making it suitable for development, but the figure could be reviewed at a later stage.

Application agent Alastair Willis said: “The increase in dwellings from the previous scheme reflects the current need for new housing in the area.”