New flood assessment needed for retail bid

The vacant premises in Stanley Terrace, which used to be a Morrisons, will be transformed into retail outlets if Dransfield Properties' plans are approved.
The vacant premises in Stanley Terrace, which used to be a Morrisons, will be transformed into retail outlets if Dransfield Properties' plans are approved.

A developer has been told to go back to the drawing board in relation to mitigating flood risk at its scheme to convert a former Morpeth supermarket into three retail outlets.

The units would be created on the footprint of the vacant premises in Stanley Terrace, which used to be a Morrisons store.

The Dransfield Properties proposal, which was lodged six weeks ago, also includes the Express Taxis office in Morpeth Bus Station moving across the road, opposite the taxi rank, and extending the Corbridge Larder.

The comments so far have largely been supportive, but the company has received a setback as the Environment Agency has said that it objects to the application at the moment because the flood risk assessment (FRA) submitted on behalf of Dransfield is ‘not acceptable’.

In its response to this document, the organisation states: ‘Fluvial flooding from the River Wansbeck has been considered and confirms the risk is low, especially due to the presence of new flood defences.

‘However, the submitted FRA fails to consider any risk from the Cotting Burn. The Flood Alleviation Scheme does include work on the Cotting Burn, but there is still a residual risk of exceedance or blockage on the watercourse. The development needs to consider mitigation for this eventuality.

‘Furthermore, confirmation is required that there will be no structural impact on the culverted main river within the site and the FRA needs to provide more detail on the surface water management of the site.’

Morpeth Town Council’s planning and transport committee did not object to the bid, but it supports the concerns of the Environment Agency.

Members also said that during a period of construction, efforts should be minimise the impact on the viability of the shopping centre as a whole and if Northumberland County Council is minded to allow construction vehicles to infringe the car park, this must be kept to a minimum and monitored.

During the discussion, deputy clerk Angela Logan said that according to Dransfield, the market for food stores is so bad at the moment that there is no current demand to build one in the Morpeth area.

In response to this, Coun Bob Robertson had a note of caution, saying: “With the hundreds of new homes being constructed in various parts of Morpeth, a supermarket giant may decide a few years down the line that the demand is there to build a store on the edge of town.”

If the scheme gets the go-ahead, one of the units would be single-storey, another would be one-and-a-half storeys and the third two-storeys-high, with glazing installed to open views to Dark Lane.