Demands for public say on housing bid

A PUBLIC meeting is being sought to allow residents to air their views on controversial housing plans.

County councillor Glen Sanderson has called for the session to discuss the bid by Barratt David Wilson Homes and Tees Valley Housing to build 395 homes at Stobhill.

Morpeth Town and Hepscott Parish councils have already objected to the proposal, while 400 people have signed a petition against it.

Coun Sanderson, who previously secured a meeting over windfarm plans for Fenrother, said it is important that people are afforded an opportunity to express their views.

“People need to be able to have a voice,” he said.

“When I asked for the Fenrother meeting about the windfarm application something like 200 people attended and it was a very worthwhile exercise.

“There are so many people who feel frustrated that they aren’t able to have their say at planning meetings so I have written to the planning officers asking for a public meeting to happen at an appropriate time in the planning process.”

The development is proposed for fields next to the A192 and A196. It would include affordable housing, footpaths, cycleways, open space, landscaping and wildlife corridors, along with children’s play facilities and ecological schemes.

But objectors have cited concerns about flood risk, congestion, lack of infrastructure and development sprawl.

Coun Sanderson said: “There are so many reasons that say the development of that site is wrong.

“I attended a Hepscott Parish Council meeting and a number of residents were very strongly against this application.

“It would mean a great deal to have a public meeting and allow those people to have a say. They would be able to question the planning officers and the developers about the whole scheme.”

He added: “It is nonsensical to have proposals like this when the area is developing a Neighbourhood Plan. Developers should just wait until local people have formulated the Plan and we could then move forward in a more sensible manner.”

The Morpeth Action Group is still collecting signatures against the application in an online petition.

Campaigners say they are heartened by the county council’s refusal of plans to build a housing estate at Loansdean as similar issues apply to the Stobhill site.

Morpeth Town Council member Alison Byard said: “The Morpeth Action Group would like to congratulate the South Morpeth Coalition and thank it for all its hard work to ensure a successful outcome at the hearing at County Hall. This is a victory for the people of Morpeth and for common sense.

“All of the reasons for refusal, such as greenfield site, outside settlement boundaries, increase in traffic to Telford Bridge bottleneck and increased flood risk, also apply to the proposed development at Stobhill, which we are campaigning to ensure will also be refused.

“If residents wish to support our campaign, please sign on to the Morpeth Action Group Facebook page. We also have an e-petition.”

The petition can be found at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/54537