FOI request reveals more housing plans

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Secret plans have been uncovered to build another 150 houses south of Morpeth.

Resident Johnny Wearmouth has unearthed correspondence between developer Taylor Wimpey and Northumberland County Council about land between Barmoor Farm and Stobhill Manor.

The developer says it has no intention to submit a planning application, but has admitted that the site is a ‘long-term project’.

Mr Wearmouth discovered the discussions after noticing people taking surveys of the land and submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the council for any correspondence relating to the site.

He said: “I was aware that in the latest SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) process this had potential for housing so I knew the field was a potential target for development and when I saw the activity there I put in the FOI request.

“The SHLAA identified 92 houses as what the council thought was deliverable and the developer is saying 150.

“There has been no consultation with residents at all. When I’ve told people about this it is a bit of a surprise. Although there were indications that the land might have been a target, quite how advanced the plans are is a big surprise. Taylor Wimpey has already done quite a few studies and I get the impression that it is not far off submitting an application.”

Mr Wearmouth says he expects there to be strong opposition to any application, particularly as the area has been identified for Greenbelt.

“I’m sure that residents would be ready to fight this,” he said.

A Taylor Wimpey spokeswoman said: “We currently have no intention to submit a planning application. However, as part of our planning promotion, we have met with the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan Developer Engagement Group to confirm the availability of the site. This is a long-term project managed by our Strategic Land team and, as with all Taylor Wimpey schemes, we will consult local residents in advance of the submission of any planning application.”

Northumberland county councillor Glen Sanderson said residents are anxious about any more housing proposals, particularly after the recent approval of 396 houses between the A192 and A196.

“We know there are a number of pre-application discussions going on about different possibilities in and around Hepscott, which causes great concern and significant anxiety to people who live in the area,” he said. “It seems that there is a free-for-all at the moment and having just got over the huge disappointment of the appeal decision, the very last thing that Hepscott residents would like is another battle to preserve the environment.”

Hepscott Parish Council Chairman Philip Ashmore said: “This is another bit of green open countryside that would become housing. It would be the further extension of Morpeth southward towards Hepscott, which gives everyone concern, and they would build on the banks of the Coal Burn which leads into Hepscott Burn so there would be flooding concerns as well.

“There are enough houses in Morpeth, and we have just had another 600 approved, 200 at Loansdean and 400 at Stobhill. There is no need for further housing south of the town.

“Everyone is disappointed about the Stobhill decision, but they are still up for a fight if developers want to continue building on the south side of Morpeth.”