Estate’s housing plan is unveiled

Mitford Estate LLP development options for land  to the west of Lancaster Park.
Mitford Estate LLP development options for land to the west of Lancaster Park.

Up to 400 homes could be built on the edge of Morpeth as a new development plan is unveiled.

Mitford Estate held a public consultation on Tuesday to outline its vision for housing, a hotel, restaurant, pub, shop, roadside services and a country park on land to the west of Lancaster Park.

The plans are still in the early stages and archaeological investigations are due to begin next week.

Signet Planning Director Sandra Manson, who organised the consultation event at Morpeth Town Hall, said: “It is early stages in terms of development of the site, but we are keen to understand what everybody’s views are. The Morpeth Northern Bypass opens this site as a development opportunity.

“We have submitted a scoping report and that envisages an upper limit of 350 to 400 houses. We have identified areas of the land to exclude from development so already that number is coming down.”

Access to the site is proposed from the bypass and any development would depend on the road obtaining Government approval.

Estate owner Bruce Shepherd said: “There is no developer, we are doing this ourselves so that we can have a design brief that suits the area.

“We want it to be good not just for Lancaster Park, but for the people of Morpeth and Mitford and surrounding villages.

“We want to make the woodland more accessible to the public, and even the grazing fields would have footpaths.

“I think Morpeth needs more people to make the centre work and we are looking to create jobs with the services, hotel, restaurant and the country park shop. We are trying to see what works best for the area.”

However, many of those attending the consultation were unhappy about the plans.

Lancaster Park resident John Summerbell said: “I think they are awful.

“With the hotel and pub, the noise for the people in Pinewood Drive is going to be absolutely awful.

“There are so many houses proposed for Morpeth already and now they are talking about putting these ones in. I don’t think Morpeth can sustain it.”

His wife Shirley added: “The exit to go into Morpeth is a problem now. If there is more traffic it is going to be even worse. Schools, doctors, parking — these are all issues that haven’t been addressed. They won’t even say the number of proposed houses.”

Neighbour Margaret Whillis said: “We are not very happy. There are lots of things still to be addressed.

“The sliproad from Fairmoor would be closed so the filling station there wouldn’t have anybody passing and there are other businesses up there as well. They wouldn’t survive.”

Resident John Wilson said: “I’m neutral about housing, but I think it is irresponsible to put a pub next to the road.”

Another resident Sean Fugill was also concerned.

“What is the capacity of the schools and the roads for this? If Morpeth is going to grow, it has to grow in a balanced way. If you increase the houses then you have to increase the services that go with them,” he said.

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I work in a local school and I’m really concerned because the schools are already full. What provision is going to be made for all these new families? It’s the same for the doctors and dentists.”

However, another resident had no objection to the scheme.

“It looks great on the plans, but what will come out in the end?” he said.

“Will it be the number of houses that are indicated, or will they double it? If it is as shown I don’t have a problem.

“It flies in the face of the Morpeth Plan, but the county council has done that already because the County Hall site was never in the Plan for housing.”

The proposals can be seen online at www.signetplanning.com/consultation and comments are invited by Friday, November 28.