RESIDENTS are calling for compensation after being told they cannot park outside their homes.
Staithes Lane has already been closed off to normal traffic for a number of months because of works associated with the new Morrisons supermarket and linked car park facilities.
But now people living in the street are unable to stop in their drives, garages or designated spaces for approximately 10 days while repairs are carried out to the road and footpaths.
These works, which started on Monday, were not part of the original plan as the state of the road and footpath along the lane is worse than expected.
This has added to the list of issues that residents have with the construction of project since Tolent – on behalf of store developer Dransfield Properties – started on site.
But Dransfield is taking up their cause when it comes to nauseous smells coming from piping, as it has been in touch with Northumbrian Water to try and sort out the issue.
One of the residents, Frances Elliott, said: “We were stunned to be told that we had to park elsewhere.
“We’ve been advised to go to a grassed area at the bottom of the street or to other estates, but this would be unfair on those residents. The other problem is that our insurance is invalid when we stop somewhere else, so who will be liable for damage?
“I think we should be entitled to some compensation when you consider what else we’ve had to put up with since the works started.
“As well as the noise and vibrations, me and some of my neighbours have to put up with an unpleasant smell every time it rains, which began after a water pipe burst during the cable diversion works in April. It’s so bad I have to leave the house and I don’t want to be doing it regularly during the winter.”
Fellow Staithes Lane resident Marcus Hopper said Coun Gordon Castle suggested at the planning committee meeting when the supermarket was approved that there should be regular meetings during the construction between the developer, councillors and local residents, but this has not happened.
“We’re not living on the edge of a building site, we’re living in one,” he added.
“Even though we were told that works would only go on late in exceptional circumstances, in recent weeks they have been regularly taking place until midnight.”
Long-time resident Isobel Pringle said she remembered when the lane was all cobbles and it wasn’t designed to take the strain of heavy goods vehicles.
Margaret Maylia, who runs the Morpeth Lodge Guest House at the top of the street with husband Peter, said business was suffering because the building site is putting off guests.
Amanda Holmes from Dransfield Properties said: “The poor condition of the substructure of the road has meant that the works to Staithes Lane are much more involved than was initially anticipated.
“Our contractors Tolent have kept everyone informed and they are working with residents on alternative parking during this time to minimise any disruption.
“The work is progressing well and should be finished by the middle of next week. We have ensured that bin collections, deliveries and ambulance visits can all still be made throughout this time and continue to do so.
“With regard to the smells that are being experienced these are not as a result of the works on site and we share the concerns of the residents of Staithes Lane about the CSO (Combined Sewer Overflows) which we believe are not adequate when there is heavy rainfall as has been experienced in recent weeks.
“We have been lobbying Northumbrian Water to upgrade the drainage along Staithes Lane from day one and are currently in dialogue with them on this very issue. We are also writing to residents to ask them to make the company aware of the issues they are facing.”
“On the rare occasion that late working is necessary our contractors do notify those residents living closest to the site. We did have to work late on site on a few occasions when the concrete slab was being poured. It is normal practice on these occasions not to use machinery in the later hours in the evening.
“There is no further late working planned on the main site however we will be working through the night on the re-surfacing of Dark Lane for a short period in the coming weeks.”
A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “We have a statutory duty to aid the developers to do their work and have authorised their application for the closure as this is the quickest and safest option for reinstating the road.
“We appreciate the concerns of residents and the temporary disruption this will cause them and have been in talks with them to try and find a compromise.
“It has been agreed that residents of Staithes Lane can park in the Terrace car park and Stanley Terrace North car park (up to the maximum stay) using their M2 residents permits for the duration of the road closure. There is also an off road area at the bottom of Gas House Lane where additional parking provision has been arranged.”
Northern Gas Networks Emergency Officer Nigel Chambers said: “We can confirm that our emergency engineers have attended three calls to properties in Staithes Lane in Morpeth since April in response to members of the public reporting a smell of gas.
“In all cases, when our emergency engineers investigated on site, no trace of any gas was found.
“This would suggest it is a smell in the air rather than an actual gas leak. It may be possible that building work close by has disturbed the ground and released smells into the air.”