The special meeting of Mitford Parish Council last Wednesday to consider the application by Mitford Estate for land west of Lancaster Park was a truly enlightening experience.
This was conceivably the most important issue that the parish has had to consider for some time. It appeared that the councillors, with one exception, had little appreciation of the major technicalities of the proposed development and the environmental impact, including the changes to the ancient Scotch Gill Woods and the potential disturbance to wildlife, or the effect of the sewage treatment works discharging effluent into the River Wansbeck close to Mitford Village. There seemed to be scant appreciation of the traffic ramifications on the surrounding neighbourhood beyond the village, and Morpeth in particular.
The development was seen as providing affordable housing and employment for Mitford residents, and yet it is sited adjacent to Lancaster Park and is supposed to serve the whole neighbourhood.
No concern was expressed on the effect of the proposed service area and HGV park, with noise, air and light pollution from a 24-hour service on local residents of the existing housing estate. The effect of the proposed out-of-town retail outlet on existing retailers in the centre of Morpeth received scant consideration. The suggestion from a councillor that the proposed roadside/travel hotel would be venue for family social functions seems hard to comprehend, bearing in mind the general surroundings and noise from traffic on the A1.
One was left to consider the merits of a man-made ‘country park’ against those of the present open countryside and farmland. Perhaps the councillors might be advised to listen to BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Archers — an everyday story of country folk’.