Route change hits red light

CHANGES have been made to plans for a new supermarket in Morpeth’s Low Stanners.

But a major concern from residents in neighbouring Staithes Lane remains, as an alternative proposal that would have seen delivery traffic avoid their street has been rejected.

Dransfield Properties lodged a detailed application for the 50,000 sq ft facility with Northumberland County Council a few weeks ago.

Before doing so it held a public exhibition and meetings with local residents and stakeholders to give them an opportunity to raise any issues.

People living in Staithes Lane sought reassurance and clarification on a number of points, including delivery hour restrictions, residents’ parking spaces and flooding and evacuation of the area.

One householder, Marcus Hopper, put forward a highways proposal to provide a different access road than the one along Staithes Lane for delivery vehicles.

This was forwarded to the highways engineers AECOM, with whom Dransfield Properties is working, for a full audit of its feasibility.

But among the documents submitted to the county council, the company says: “Unfortunately, this proposal was not felt to be feasible on safety grounds and a full reply was forwarded of the reasons this could not be incorporated into the scheme.”

There have been alterations in other aspects, including a reduction in the landscaping to provide further car parking for residents.

Locals spoke of the need for a traffic warden to patrol Staithes Lane to prevent customers of the food store parking in their spaces and Dransfield says it will make representations on their behalf to see this enforced.

A resident asked about a footway being created between the service yard and the sewage plant to create a direct link onto the riverside walkway.

This has now been incorporated into the plans.

As for evacuation in the event of a flood, a detailed evacuation policy would be worked up in conjunction with the local authority once it finalises how it would manage the lower level car park.

Traffic alterations are being proposed, as allowing a right-hand turn through the bus station lanes to create access onto Manchester Street would help to avoid delays at the junction of Damside and Stanley Terrace.

Andrew Malley, Retail Property Director at Dransfield Properties, said: “After consulting with local stakeholders and residents over recent months, we have taken on board everyone’s comments and believe we have a scheme that is right for Morpeth.

“We have sought to deliver a development which sits comfortably with Morpeth’s architectural heritage and which will deliver a high-quality development and public realm on this key gateway site into the town.

“A great deal of work has also gone into ensuring all the businesses affected can successfully relocate within the town.

“If the plans are approved, one of the first elements of the development will be to build a new veterinary practice for Robson and Prescott. The scheme is also facilitating the relocation of Thompsons Garage, another well-known local business.

“If the supermarket plans are supported, we are optimistic that we could commence work as early as autumn this year.”

The £24million development would provide up to 290 jobs and include a landscaping scheme.

There would be 283 short-stay car parking spaces and 296 underground long-stay spaces, a net increase of 97 long-stay bays as the existing car parks in Low Stanners would be removed.

The supermarket plans and associated documents are available to view online in the planning application search section of the county council’s website. Visit www.northumberland.gov.uk and enter the application reference 11/00408/FUL.

They can also be looked at in the authority’s customer information centre on Bridge Street.