Objections firmed up to new housing

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TOWN councillors have firmed up their opposition to housing plans for the edge of Morpeth.

Members of the Planning and Transport Committee have agreed a submission to the Planning Inspectorate setting out their objections to a bid by Bellway Homes to build 200 properties on greenfield land at South Loansdean.

The application was rejected by Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee in February after 214 letters of objection and a 468-name petition were submitted against the plans and Morpeth Town Council also came out in opposition, but Bellway has appealed.

Now the proposal will go before a planning inquiry at Morpeth Town Hall on Tuesday, July 17.

However, the town council says its previous objections still stand and have even been strengthened by recent announcements, such as the Government’s new planning guidance and the authority being accepted as a Neighbourhood Plan Frontrunner, which will allow locals greater opportunity to shape the development of the area.

Coun David Parker said: “While we are of the opinion that most of our previous objections still stand, a number of factors have emerged since the council made its decision which we believe are new and strengthen our objections regarding the application by Bellway.

“We appreciate that the decision as to how much housing there should be in Morpeth is a matter for the county council to determine in the Local Plan, but the neighbourhood plan allows local people to decide how and where that housing might be developed.

“If this application went ahead then that process is going to be prejudiced because 200 houses is quite a significant number of those that will be recommended to be built in the town over the next five years or so.”

The council has also raised concerns about the availability of school places near the Loansdean site, the fact that it is on the edge of town, outside the settlement boundary, remote from community facilities and would take up good agricultural land.

In Bellway’s appeal submission it argues that there is a shortage of deliverable housing sites in the area, the council has failed to provide adequate affordable housing, which the Loansdean scheme would offer, and the development would ‘make a significant and meaningful contribution’ towards housing supply.

It says the development would deliver a high-quality scheme.