Strong opposition to ‘unacceptable’ plans

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Councillors have reaffirmed their objections to a potential major new development on the edge of Morpeth.

In response to comments from statutory consultees and others, Mitford Estate has made some alterations to its plans for housing, a hotel, roadside services and parkland on a greenfield site to the west of Lancaster Park.

This includes reducing the number of residential properties from 280 to 255, amending parking arrangements and additional landscaping.

As a result, residents, organisations and bodies that are consulted by planners at Northumberland County Council are able to repeat their views if they feel their points have not been addressed and submit fresh comments.

Morpeth Town Council’s planning and transport committee discussed the application at a meeting last week and it agreed to restate its objections to the original proposal with some slight amendments.

Dozens of people were in attendance and before the councillors spoke about the alterations, Peter Burchall addressed them on behalf of the Morpeth North Residents Action Group.

Committee chair Joan Tebbutt also commented on the criticism of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (MNP) by Mitford Estate and its statement that it ‘reserves its position as to whether it pursues these matters elsewhere’.

She said: “I agree with the views of the action group that Mitford Estate is using bullying tactics to try to force a delay to the plan.”

Coun Nic Best added that the independent examiner, who will assess if the neighbourhood plan is suitable to go to a public referendum, is currently going through the responses submitted about the final draft plan and he will decide if they need to be considered further.

The planning committee’s response includes the following: ‘The close proximity of commercial and industrial usage, especially a service station and lorry park, to residential use is unacceptable and would result in unacceptable light pollution that would affect the residential amenity of residents of the new development.

‘The proposal represents a satellite settlement not appropriately integrated with the rest of Morpeth.

‘The MNP allocates suitable land for employment use elsewhere to the north of Morpeth, and this is still available for development, which we would not wish to jeopardise.’

Mr Burchall’s speech said: “We believe that scant regard has been paid by Mitford Estate in its handful of changes to the town council’s response, our response and the responses of over 200 Morpeth residents.

“For example, the close proximity of the petrol filling station to the houses has not been addressed and the town council’s concern for school places is not mentioned at all.

“We urge the town council to vigorously defend its neighbourhood plan and to continue its opposition to this development.”

A letter from Signet Planning on behalf of Mitford Estate says: ‘The main changes to the proposal include an increased landscaping buffer to the western boundary of the site and the relocation of residential units with an increased set back from the western edge of the site to take into account matters raised by the environmental health officer.

‘There will be amendments to the trunk road service area layout to incorporate the amended parking requirement to reflect dialogue with Highways England and the (county) highways authority.’