Developers are accused of spoiling leafy entrance

RESIDENTS opposing a housing scheme opposite their Morpeth homes have accused the developer of spoiling the leafy entrance into the town with a commercial building.

As well as new housing, the proposed Bellway site would include a facility of up to 465sq m that could be used by a retailer or service provider such as a doctor’s surgery or creche.

But its location next to a new roundabout leading into the new estate, which would link with Southgate Wood, has caused concern as the building and signage would be seen by people from the A197 as they head into Morpeth. At the moment, there is a bank of large trees stretching from Catchburn Farm to the County Hall roundabout.

At a planning inquiry in the Town Hall, South Morpeth Coalition member Joan Tebbutt said: “Morpeth is a tourist town and both residents and visitors enjoy passing through the tree corridor on their way to the town centre so we’re horrified that this could be taken away and the main entrance to Morpeth be totally defined by a roundabout and commercial building.”

Landscape designer Tom Robinson said he didn’t think it was a problem to see a building of that nature when entering the town as it would form part of the transition from a rural to urban setting.

But he added that some tree planting would take place to soften the impact.

He said there would be compensatory tree planting where tree removal is necessary, and a green public open space would be created within the housing layout.

“In all cases where there is a view, it will be of well designed and good quality homes set within a pattern of trees and behind a strengthened boundary hedgerow,” he said. “Because of this, I believe that once the novelty of the development has faded, the nature of the view will be neutral.”

The Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade wrote to Planning Inspector Malcolm Rivett to lodge its objections about the facility’s potential retail use. Expressions of interest have been made by the Co-op and Sainsbury’s.

Vice-chairman Charles Robinson said: “While a retail unit on this scale is considerably less than the applications which have been rejected in recent years, by Tesco at Coopies Lane and Sainsbury’s at Stobhill, we remain of the opinion that this size of unit would adversely affect trade in the town and would impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.”