Homes must be north of river, say councillors

MORPETH councillors have added their weight to objections to the proposed Loansdean housing scheme.

County and town member Andrew Tebbutt told the inquiry it would be wrong to allow 200 homes to be built south of Morpeth as all policy in recent years has been directed towards development in the north.

He said the Morpeth Northern Bypass funding submission, which has been approved by the Government, repeatedly made reference to that fact and suggested that the St George’s Hospital site would contribute substantially to the development of the town, while council support for schemes in Morpeth town centre shows its conviction that development should be north of the river.

“Every document I’ve seen since 1998 says that sustainable development in Morpeth must be on the north side of the river,” he said.

“If you allow significant development to both the north and south of Morpeth I would argue that both become unsustainable as there is simply not enough money in the public or private sector to create the full range of appropriate infrastructure for both.”

Coun Tebbutt said the Bellway scheme would add to traffic congestion in the town centre – a situation that is likely to be made worse as permission is expected to be given for the development of brownfield sites at Morpeth Cottage Hospital, the former police headquarters and Merley Croft in the next five years or so.

He also raised concerns that no funding had been allocated in the application for school refurbishment, said he had doubts about whether the commercial element of the scheme could succeed and said that Bellway’s claims that building near County Hall would offer local employment opportunities were unlikely to come to fruition as the county council is expected to cut jobs, rather than recruit.

“This proposal is for the wrong place, at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons,” he said.

Coun Tebbutt also hit out at Northumberland County Council’s refusal to defend its decision to reject the Bellway application, saying the policies initially referred to in turning down the bid are still relevant.