Fresh fight against bid for flats

CAMPAIGNERS are preparing themselves for their latest battle against a Morpeth retirement complex, which will take place later this month.

Developer McCarthy and Stone submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate after members of the county council’s north area planning committee refused its bid for 51 flats off Cottingwood Lane.

Now a date and venue for the hearing has been set – Tuesday, April 23, in Morpeth Town Hall.

Planning officers recommended approval for the three-storey building, which the company earmarked for land on the site of the Old Headmaster’s Lawn near King Edward VI School.

But the committee voted to reject the application, saying there would be risks to pedestrian safety at the access point to the development.

Members were also concerned about the loss of greenfield land when brownfield areas are available and the size and mass of the complex. Those opposing the proposal say that part of it will be the equivalent height of a four-storey building because the site is on a slope.

A 420-name petition and more than 100 letters of objection were put forward against the plans and the Cottingwood Lane Residents’ Action Group was formed to lead the campaign.

Member Les Cassie said he and two others in the group have requested to speak at the hearing.

“A council planning officer will be there to support the reasons for refusal given by the committee,” he added.

“But the meeting when it was refused did not address a number of our list of objections because of the procedures it had to follow, so we hope that the planning inspector will take all our points into account.

“We would like as many people as possible who are opposed to this application to attend the hearing.”

The action group also believes that the proposal has an inadequate parking provision, so it would have a major detrimental effect on the already very congested Cottingwood Lane.

It says the development would create a significantly increased risk of surface water flooding to surrounding properties in School Close, South Terrace and Kings Avenue and McCarthy and Stone has not adequately addressed the issue.

And the removal of two to three metres of earth to make the entrance and car parking levels would, in its opinion, severely damage the protected mature trees which screen the site, particularly on the southern side of the proposed entrance.

South Terrace resident Marilyn Tweddle, who taught at the school and was married to former Deputy Head Alec, said: “Cars are parked along the narrow lane every day and during term time, hundreds of children walk up and down it to get to and from school.

“The entrance is on a blind bend and elderly residents on foot or in mobility scooters would have to cross the road at this point even though it is impossible to look far enough to see oncoming traffic. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

“The size of the development means we would be totally overshadowed and the building would dominate the landscape.”

Morpeth Town Council is also against the application and its planning and transport committee chairman Graeme Trotter will speak at the hearing, which is set to start at 10am.