Residents unite to fight off 200-home development

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RESIDENTS’ protests about plans to build 200 houses on the edge of Morpeth have been echoed by town councillors.

Bellway Homes North East is applying for permission to build the properties at Loansdean in a field outside the settlement boundary over a period of seven years.

The developer says half of the homes could form affordable housing and the scheme will help to meet demand for accommodation in the area.

But residents of Loansdean, Southgate Wood, The Kylins and Clifton have united as the South Morpeth Coalition to fight the plans.

When Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee met to discuss the application last week, the session had to be moved from the Council Chamber to the Corn Exchange to accommodate the dozens of people who turned up to hear the debate.

They were rewarded when members unanimously agreed to oppose the bid.

Coalition member David Holden said: “We certainly welcome the town council’s decision.

“There was quite a significant amount of residents there and we felt that Coun David Parker properly represented the views of the residents. If the town council had been favourable towards the application that would have made it much more difficult for the residents to take it on, but now we have got over that hurdle we have more hope to get this application rejected.

“There have been 147 submissions to the county council about this and we expect that the vast majority of those are objections to the application.”

The town council has objected on the grounds that the development is not in accordance with the Local Plan, the site has not been identified for housing when other areas in Morpeth have, it is beyond the settlement boundary on a greenfield site and would lead to the loss of good agricultural land.

Members also said it would be remote from community facilities, reasons for refusal of previous applications for the land still apply, the scheme would substantially increase car journeys to unacceptable levels and there would be a detrimental impact on the environmental corridor on the approach to the town.

They also said there is already adequate housing provision in Morpeth if existing planning permissions are taken into account and the long time-frame for completion of the development would cause severe traffic problems.

Coun Parker, who proposed the objection, said: “The committee was unanimous in feeling that this development is inappropriate. There has been a number of applications over the past 20 years for that site and they have all been turned down for various reasons.

“It is outside the settlement boundary, which is an important consideration, particularly as it is contrary to the Castle Morpeth Local Plan, which still applies.

“One basic point is that any significant housing development in the Morpeth area in the future ought to be in the North Central area, such as the St George’s site which is prescribed for housing in the Local Plan.

“If the South East Northumberland Link Road is approved that will not only serve as a strategic route across to the south east of the county, but will also provide a way of diverting some traffic away from Morpeth and more importantly, it will provide for development to the North of the town. There could also be the possibility of community facilities there.

“At Loansdean, there is no suggestion that there will be any more school places or community services. The schools and services are all at the other side of the town so to develop in this part would be ludicrous. If you were putting up 12 houses then fair enough, but 200 is a big development and it would have a big impact on this part of the town.”

The objections will be sent to Northumberland County Council, which will decide the application.