Councillors blast developer’s bid to change conditions

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A developer should be forced to open its books if it wishes to change planning conditions, councillors have said.

Bellway Homes North East is seeking to change the terms of its permission for a new housing estate in Loansdean to almost half the amount of affordable homes included.

The current approval is for 100 affordable homes, but the developer is proposing that only 60 should be built on its Morpeth plot and a £1.2million contribution be made to provide the rest elsewhere.

However, Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee is fiercely opposed to the plan.

And member Nic Best says it should only be granted if exceptional circumstances are shown in an open-book process.

“The only reason you can get a variation of condition is if circumstances have changed,” he said.

“The only way you should be able to get this change is if the developer can’t afford to provide the affordable housing it has agreed to. We would only know that if the county council chooses to have an open-book procedure, requiring the developer to set out its case.

“As it is we can see no reason why this condition should be changed.”

Coun Alison Byard added: “One of the reasons this was granted was because it would provide affordable homes and now they want to provide 40 of them somewhere else. If they are needed then they should be on this site.”

Acting Chairman Bob Robertson said: “We want affordable housing to be in this town.

“Having got permission for two applications, Bellway is picking what it considers the most attractive bits to create a third. It should be told to pick one of the two, or submit a new one, but not be allowed to take bits of both.”

The comments will be sent to the county council.