Steering group audits the town

AN infrastructure audit has been prepared to identify development capacity issues.

The Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group asked students at Newcastle University to compile the report.

Various issues were assessed, including transport, energy, sewerage and drainage, telecommunications, education, healthcare, community services and waste and recycling services.

The students found that the majority of services are concentrated in Morpeth, with a limited range in Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford.

There are limited public transport links from the villages, as well as restricted mobile phone coverage and broadband speeds.

The highway network in Morpeth is under pressure, but the development of the Morpeth Northern Bypass will alleviate some of the traffic volumes.

Education capacity in the town is also tight, but the pressure is attributable to demand for school places from outside the area. Schools were found to have a positive impact on the local economy.

The capacity of the sewage treatment works at Morpeth and Pegswood would require further investment for future development to take place. Similarly, the sewerage network would need to be reinforced.

It is anticipated that Community Infrastructure Levy will be introduced for developments in the county and 25 per cent of the funds raised from development in a Neighbourhood Plan area should go to the community to decide how it will be spent.

Options

l Work to decide where money raised under the Community Infrastructure Levy should be spent.

l Include funding of sewage treatment, sewerage and surface water drainage capacity in decision-making about new development.