Residents hit out at development plans

Morpeth North Residents' Action Group.
Morpeth North Residents' Action Group.
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Objectors are rallying to prepare for battle against controversial development plans.

Last week, the Herald reported that the Mitford Estate had submitted an outline planning application for hundreds of homes, a hotel, roadside services and parkland on a greenfield site to the west of Lancaster Park.

Estate owner Bruce Shepherd said the scheme would provide 200 jobs, affordable housing, visitor accommodation and business opportunities.

But the Morpeth North Residents’ Action Group (MNRAG) says there is fierce opposition, with more than 100 people contributing to a fund to fight the application and concern expressed across Morpeth.

Member Colin Coates said: “Most people are completely opposed to the service area. That is going to cause the most disruption to people in Lancaster Park because it will be on their doorstep, but it is not only the people in houses who will be affected, it is the petrol station, the B&Bs in Morpeth and the Queen’s Head. At a time when everyone is trying desperately to revitalise the town, that would unsettle it.”

The group, which has appointed a consultant to help fight the plans, fears noise, light pollution, the creation of urban sprawl on the green approaches to the town and the reduction of the separation distance between Mitford and Morpeth, as well as the impact on town centre jobs from the creation of new commercial facilities on the edge of Morpeth.

We are not NIMBYs, we are not against development.

Dr Colin Coates, Morpeth North Residents’ Action Group

There is also concern that it would be outside the settlement boundary and scupper the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, which envisages housing at the former St George’s Hospital plot and safeguarding the proposed site.

Dr Coates said: “We are not Nimbys, we are not against development. We are totally in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan. If this development goes ahead, the Plan as a concept is dead because we will have all the development we need for the next 15 years before it comes to fruition.

“Mr Shepherd should wait until the Neighbourhood Plan is adopted.”

A meeting will be held at All Saints First School on Tuesday, at 7.30pm, to discuss the application. MNRAG has also set up a website at www.savemorpeth.weebly.com