PLANS for a new housing estate in south Morpeth now include a commercial building.
And the number of homes has dropped from 240 to 200 as Bellway Homes North East has made changes to its initial proposals for a greenfield site in Loansdean.
An application for the scheme, which involves properties ranging from apartments to five-bedroom detached family homes, has been lodged with Northumberland County Council this week.
But the proposal is still being fiercely opposed by a residents’ group that has recently been formed, which argues that the land is unsuitable for a housing development.
Sandra Thompson, of Signet Planning, which was commissioned to submit a planning application, said the business element would be an outline bid and the company or organisation which wants to move in would need to put in a more detailed application.
“This addition was in response to comments about our initial plans saying there is a lack of facilities in that area of Morpeth,” she added.
“Our application will cover a range of uses so the building could be taken up by a retailer or it could become a GP or dental practice.
“We’ve already had some interest in this element.
“Even though we have reduced the number of homes to 200, 50 per cent of them will still be affordable housing and I haven’t been involved in a scheme where the percentage was this high.
“There is also scope on the site to develop a pond area which would create new habitats.”
She added that the possibility of developing a play area at Heron’s Field would be part of a Section 106 agreement with the county council.
Representatives from Bellway and Signet recently had a meeting with the South Morpeth Coalition, which was formed to oppose this application and others in the area should they arise.
A member of the group, who lives in Southgate Wood, said: “The amount of affordable housing is welcome, but developments such as this should happen on brownfield sites, not valuable greenfield land.
“The plans are not desirable and not needed as there are more than 1,000 homes with planning permission in the former Castle Morpeth borough and the housing need was identified as 650 for the next five years.
“The commercial element has to be sold on and there is no guarantee that a business or organisation will find it attractive enough to take it.”
They added: “The county council’s strategy is for new homes to be built to the north of Morpeth and there is an application for a brownfield site at Northgate Hospital which doesn’t rely on the bypass going ahead to be sustainable.”
Once the planning application has been validated by the authority, it will be made available for residents to view and give their comments.