Council maintains its objection to housing bid

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REVISED plans for a home on the edge of Morpeth town centre have failed to satisfy councillors.

The new proposal by architect John Hare for a two-bedroom property at Low Wood, off Pottery Bank, was submitted after a previous application for a three-storey, three-bedroom home was dismissed by Northumberland County Council and the decision was upheld by a planning inspector.

The building in the latest bid is smaller than the first and it would be set further back from the road. Hedging would be re-planted to make a ‘green wall’ of screening, and windows have been designed to avoid overlooking.

But Morpeth Town Council’s planning and transport committee has put forward an objection again. Members believe that such a development would be the first step at chipping away the uniform green approach on the north side of the town centre, which should be preserved.

Coun David Parker said the property being proposed is still too big and inappropriate for the location and size of plot and Coun Bob Robertson said hedging would take at least five or six years to grow to the desired levels.

Coun Stuart Lishman added: “We also need to emphasise the road-safety aspect, because the bend in the road is dangerous enough as it is and if such a large house was to be built in that area, it would add to the problem.”

Pottery Bank resident Maureen Davison led the opposition to the first application and she collected a 200-name petition against it.

In the public section of the committee meeting, she said: “While the design may have improved, there are spacing issues remaining, which are in breach of national recommended guidelines.

“The plans show the likely distance between Low Wood’s garage/utility and the proposed property’s kitchen to be around eight metres.

“The distance between the proposed property and Hillbrow’s garage/utility also falls well short of the 23 metres on the plans. This is in contravention of Policy H15, which recommends a minimum 20 metres.

“Whichever way you look at it, it’s a property being shoehorned onto an undersized plot, which is going to have greater impact on surrounding residences and local green character than these plans seem to suggest.

“The building’s eastern elevation windows will certainly impact on Pottery Bank Court residents, already adversely affected by the applicant’s Hilltop House development. In addition, tree removal will open up Low Wood to us, which is currently screened off.”

After the meeting, she thanked the town council for making another objection.

The committee also said that there are insufficient parking facilities in the area or provided for in the application and allowing the development would prejudice the ability of residents to determine where new housing should be located within Morpeth through the Neighbourhood Plan process.