Proposed changes at homes site slammed

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An application to reduce the number of affordable homes at a site in Morpeth has sparked anger among local residents.

If Bellway Homes’ plans are approved, 60 of its 200 properties on a greenfield site south of The Chip in Loansdean would be sold at a discount to the market value or made available for affordable rent – down from 100 in the original proposal.

The company has applied to assist in providing up to 40 of these units off-site through a financial contribution of £1.2million, which would be paid prior to the occupation of the first dwelling.

Its housing scheme was approved by Planning Inspector Philip Major following a hearing in the Town Hall earlier this year.

Town councillor Joan Tebbutt, also a member of the South Morpeth Coalition (SMC) group that opposed its two bids for the site, said: “I’m very angry at Bellway’s attempt to move the goalposts for its affordable housing provision.

“One of the major planks of its argument for granting the application was that it can quickly deliver affordable housing at the site.

“Therefore, to apply to get rid of almost half of its current provision and say that it will provide money for 40 somewhere else is a cynical and unacceptable move. It’s appalling.”

Northumberland County Council initially rejected Bellway’s plans for 200 homes at the site in February 2012, and an appeal by the developer was dismissed by a different planning inspector in 2012.

However, the company took the matter to the High Court and the decision was quashed, forcing a second hearing.

An inquiry took place in Morpeth Town Hall in March, together with a hearing into a second application by Bellway for 186 homes at the site, which had been refused by the council in October.

This time, Mr Major found in favour of the applicant, rejecting all of arguments against the development that were put forward by the coalition group, which had been left to fight the appeals alone after the county council pulled out.

He found that there was no adequate five-year supply of housing land, disputing SMC’s assertion that there was plenty, and said allowing the Bellway applications would not have any effect on the future housing supply in the north of the town.

In the proposal to change one of the conditions for its approved bid, 42 of the properties would be affordable rented homes and 18 would be sold at a discount to the market value. The current totals are 34 and 66 respectively.

It also states that there are no amendments to the layout or appearance of the scheme.

To view the application, type its reference number (14/04108/VARYCO) when doing a planning search at www.northumberland.gov.uk