Additions to 400-home site get approval recommendation

There will be more homes at South Fields if the application is approved.
There will be more homes at South Fields if the application is approved.

Changes which will see even more houses built as part of a 400-home development to the south of Morpeth could get the green light tomorrow.

The report to the Northumberland County Council strategic planning committee meeting suggests councillors should give the go-ahead to a reshuffle of the previously-approved scheme for 396 homes on land between Stobhill and Hepscott.

The controversial development, by Barratt David Wilson Homes and known as South Fields, was approved on appeal by the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in December 2014 in the face of hefty local opposition.

The first phase is already under construction and, as of January this year, 87 homes, including 14 affordable units, had been built.

The new application seeks to change the house type of 271 properties as well as add 42 new homes, taking the total to 438.

The changes are ‘due to market conditions’, the planning officer’s report explains, with the site being ‘re-planned to provide more two and three-bedroom family homes for first-time buyers and growing families’.

If approved tomorrow, the number of two-bedroom homes will double from 40 to 80, while there will be 149 three-bedroom properties, up from 114.

The number of four-bedroom houses will drop from 103 to 95 and although the quantity of five-bedroom dwellings will increase from 17 to 22, they will have reduced in size.

The number of discounted sale homes and those for social rent would stay the same, but this would represent a drop from 30 per cent to 27 per cent of the total development.

Hepscott Parish Council, Morpeth Town Council and Morpeth Civic Society have all objected to the alterations on grounds such as traffic concerns and the site’s higher density increasing the impact on infrastructure.

However, the report concludes: ‘Additional new housing development and reconfiguration of part of the site within the developing Stobhiill residential development would be acceptable in principle, supporting the strategy of the Castle Morpeth District Local Plan (2003) and the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (2016).’

If given the nod, the developer would have to contribute £35,700 towards increasing capacity at the doctors’ surgery in Morpeth and £198,000 for education in the town.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service