Controversial sign sparks objections

The advertising sign for Linden Homes that is currently in place on land belonging to Morpeth Golf Club.
The advertising sign for Linden Homes that is currently in place on land belonging to Morpeth Golf Club.
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Residents and councillors have criticised a developer for putting up a big advertising sign near a well-used road in Morpeth before making a planning application.

And they have called for the display relating to a housing scheme on a section of the former St George’s Hospital site to be taken down.

The sign for Linden Homes, Galliford Try’s house-building division, was installed on land belonging to Morpeth Golf Club and it has been in place for more than a month.

A few weeks ago, the company submitted a retrospective planning application.

It was discussed at a recent meeting of Morpeth Town Council’s planning and transport committee and members unanimously agreed to put forward an objection.

The golf course and associated land lies on the town’s Common and it was purchased by the club in 2009. It reached a deal with the then Castle Morpeth Borough Council just before it was wound up as part of local government re-organisation.

Town councillors believe the 1974 Act of Parliament restricting the site’s use to either agriculture or leisure means that planning permission for the sign should not be granted.

The committee’s other points included that advertising boards ‘are against the open character of the Common’ and the area where the sign is located is part of a landscape corridor as defined in the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan.

Coun Joan Tebbutt added: “It’s very frustrating because even if planning permission is refused, the sign has already been in place for a number of weeks and it could take a few more weeks for a decision to be made on the retrospective application.”

On the application form, the period of time for which planning consent is sought runs to December 23.

In total, Linden Homes’ Saint George development will deliver 374 properties and the first phase currently being built comprises 119 homes.

The objection of Loansdean resident Emma Gledson includes the following: ‘Planning permission should not be approved because the land where it is located is designated for recreational use only.

‘I question why the board has been allowed to stay in situ whilst the planning application is being considered.’

A Northumberland County Council spokeswoman said: “A retrospective planning application has been received for the sign and this is currently under consideration.”

To view the application, go to the planning section at www.northumberland.gov.uk and type the application reference – 16/01243/ADE – in the search box.