Society support for Willows campaign

The Willows and Beechfield House, Gas House Lane, in Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman.

The Willows and Beechfield House, Gas House Lane, in Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman.

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A campaign to save two cherished Morpeth buildings from the bulldozer has received backing from a national body.

Hundreds of residents are supporting calls to protect the frontage of The Willows and its neighbour Beechfield House in Gas House Lane.

Fears have been raised that they could be completely knocked down after Northumberland County Council announced plans for a ‘landmark riverside development’ on the land – firm proposals have yet to be announced.

Morpeth town councillor David Clark set up a petition and following the good response from members of the public, the closing date has been extended to Wednesday, December 9.

He has also been in touch with the Victorian Society, a charity which champions Victorian and Edwardian buildings, and it has released a statement this week in support of the campaign.

Senior Victorian Society conservation advisor James Hughes said: “The Willows and Beechfield House could make a wonderful contribution to the county council’s proposed ‘landmark riverside development’.

“The most successful re-development schemes are often those which incorporate heritage buildings. As well as being environmentally wasteful, demolishing these buildings would sever a link with the town’s past.

“The Save The Willows campaign has worked hard to illustrate just how much these buildings are appreciated by the community. At the very least, the council should ensure that its plans preserve the buildings’ exteriors.”

There are also concerns about the prospect of the library being relocated to what is currently the Chantry craft centre and Coun Clark said the newly established creative quarter in Chantry Place would be harmed if the craft centre is moved elsewhere.

He added: “I’m very confident that there will be in excess of 1,000 signatures by the time the petition is presented to the relevant committee.

“I’m very encouraged by the power and weight that the Victorian Society will add to the campaign and hopefully the county council will take note of its expertise.”

As well as online (go to the Councillors and Democracy section at www.northumberland.gov.uk and click on Get Involved), paper copies of the petition can be signed at Bin 21, Treacle Wool Shop, French Grey Tales, Chantry Picture Framing and the J & J.S Mackay shop.

They can also be signed at The Office pub near Telford Bridge.