Call to throw out plans for new homes

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MORPETH Town Council has called on Planning Inspector Malcolm Rivett to reject plans for 200 new homes.

The authority took part in the appeal hearing in the early stages, urging Mr Rivett to throw out plans by Bellway Homes to build the properties on agricultural land at Loansdean.

Coun David Parker presented a statement from the council arguing that if the Bellway bid is approved it will deny local residents the chance to fully participate in the development of both a new Local Plan and a Neighbourhood Plan, which is due to be completed in the next 12 to 18 months, as it will curtail their input about where future housing should be built.

“Morpeth is at a crossroads. It has been identified as a growth point for housing development, especially affordable housing. It is not therefore surprising that it is experiencing a significant number of major housing applications so what is crucial from the town’s point of view is when and where development takes place,” he said.

Coun Parker said alternative sites for housing will soon be available, such as St George’s Hospital, which is identified in the Castle Morpeth Local Plan as suitable for major development.

The Morpeth Northern Bypass should be completed by 2015, which Coun Parker said will open up the St George’s site and offer not just the prospect of affordable housing, but also community facilities and a new school.

He said it would comply with policy to ensure housing is well connected to town centres, whereas the Bellway site is on the edge of the town, outside the settlement boundary and remote from community facilities, and there are no plans to build a school there.

The town council also maintains that Morpeth has no shortage of housing supply in the next five years and that it will be above targets in the next two years, without even taking account of recent approvals for development at Northgate and St Mary’s Hospital.

Concerns were raised that allowing the Bellway scheme could jeopardise the sale of housing at Northgate, which is needed to fund essential mental health care facilities and safeguard jobs.

Coun Parker said: “Rejecting this appeal would enable the county council to make progress on its Local Plan and the town council to develop its future Neighbourhood Plan.

“Allowing this appeal would not be appropriate as it would deny Morpeth residents the opportunity of taking all major sites into consideration when determining where best future development should take place.”