DEVELOPMENT: Where is the wider vision?

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The concerns expressed by Morpeth Town Council are a real timely and accurate reflection on many residents’ fears over a lack of vision and accountability for the Northumberland market town, (Morpeth Herald, June 30).

Northumberland County Council Leader Grant Davey has presided over the imminent £40million demise of County Hall with apparently no clear vision or proposals for the 38 acres and with a near certainty that the council will cash in on the over-provision of housing in an already overcrowded town.

There will be nearly 3,000 more houses in Morpeth than there were two years ago, with no related investment in supporting infrastructure such as schools, leisure or commercial facilities, and no investment in people and jobs to support such a ridiculous imbalance of community to community facilities.

I believe the proposals to relocate the schools and leisure complex to County Hall were inadequate and ill-thought, which failed to meet the needs of those affected and which ultimately fell due to a lack of council investment. It appeared to be trying to crowd as much as possible into a limited space and making a quick buck on the schools and leisure stock left behind.

With the closure of County Hall planned for some time, the council should by now have a significant vision and investment plan for the town to address the issues its communities fear, but it doesn’t, stating that it’s at an early stage.

County Hall should be used for the Morpeth community to provide much-needed facilities, such as a new leisure complex to replace the very outdated and aged Riverside Leisure Centre.

While Carlisle Park is limited in what it provides, Morpeth is one of the few remaining conurbations without a modern, outdoor leisure facility attached to a sports complex — no 3G or 4G facility, no expanse of open field sports facility, and no first-class pool, such as at Cramlington, Blyth, Ponteland and Ashington.

The Riverside site could then be used for premium commercial use as an extension to the town centre, attracting business and retail.

Yes, it’s expensive, but include a financial levy to the long list of housing developers taking over the town to invest in the supporting infrastructure.

Council leaders should now heed the warnings and instead of wasting taxpayers’ cash on disasters such as the Bridge Street traffic lights fiasco, listen to your community and provide a vision and assurances to those who ultimately pay you to do so.

Martin McConnell

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