PLANS: Interested to hear views

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Some interesting new items appeared on Northumberland County Council’s website on Monday, November 28.

The planning portal now shows the application for the commercial development on the former Fire and Rescue Service site and Merley Croft, both part of what is referred to overall as the ‘County Hall site’. The reference is 16/04292/FUL. It refers, however, to “Land East of Taylor Court”. It should read ‘Telford Court’.

We now hear that the application for 200 new homes has been submitted. Great timing in the lead up to Christmas, when we are all busy.

The second item is an announcement that there is to be a “huge parking boost unveiled for Northumberland’s market towns”.

Apparently the regeneration of our market towns is doing so well that the Labour Leader Grant Davey has revealed plans for a number of multi-storey car parks to provide for “much-requested extra parking spaces”.

Morpeth is listed as one of the “first towns to benefit”. It appears that “exact locations and costs need to be further explored” and the projects will be included in the budget to be considered in February.

So this is the announcement of an idea only at this stage, rather than the unveiling of a well-considered promise of a definite plan.

Instead of recognising that car parking is an essential part of infrastructure for a town that is the focus for growth, Coun Davey said the car parks would be funded by the “administration selling the redundant County Hall site for developments”.

In other words, if the planning applications for the site are turned down due to robust objections, we would have lost our car park.

During public consultation on our Neighbourhood Plan, residents did not like the idea of multi-storey car parking, although Morpeth’s options are very limited. I would be interested to know people’s views on the proposal.

We now have a suggestion about a leisure centre and hotel on the former library/Willows site. We await details, but it will be interesting to see if the level of our existing free parking is maintained and improved.

Coun Joan Tebbutt

Morpeth Town Council member for Kirkhill