Petition lodged over housing plans in town centre street

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Residents in a group of Morpeth town centre properties have raised concerns about proposals to covert a former office into homes.

Applications have been put forward for 59 and 61 Newgate Street, each one half of a grade-II listed building, but the 59 Newgate Street bid will need at least a partial re-submission as listed building consent has been refused by Northumberland County Council.

Although in separate ownerships, both halves had, until recently, been leased by an estate agency and links were broken through so it could be used as a single office building.

The plans for number 61, submitted by an agent on behalf of applicant Jon-Paul Owen, involve creating a single dwelling for his half of the three-storey terrace building.

Alterations include a new entrance and window, the removal of a modern alteration to the rear and the extension to second floor level and new rooms in the roofspace with associated skylights.

The two applications (a separate one is needed for listed building consent) were submitted two weeks ago. Earlier this year, Dinesh Kohli put forward two applications for number 59.

For this bid, it is proposed to change the ground and first floor of the building from an office to a flat, and the storage area on the second floor and roofspace above would be converted into another residential unit.

More than a dozen residents in nearby Mains Place facing the rear of the building have signed a petition objecting to Mr Kohli’s proposals.

It includes the following: ‘If 59 Newgate Street is converted into two two-bed flats, this could create a demand for four car spaces for residents, plus visitor spaces.

‘Mains Place residents are concerned about the impact this will have on their private car park and consequently their residential amenity.

‘No evidence is presented to support the loss of publicly accessible office accommodation within Morpeth’s primary shopping area.’

Morpeth Town Council objected to the plans on similar grounds. It believes that office and shop facilities should not be lost in the town centre for economic reasons.

In its decision notice for the listed building consent application, the county council said that it ‘failed to describe the significance of the designated heritage asset and did not adequately demonstrate that the proposal would not impact upon the essential character of this listed building’.