Allotments at risk from roundabout proposal

A new large roundabout seems set for Morpeth, but it will eat into allotment land.

The Herald reported in October that three options were on the table for access to Morpeth NHS Centre and a proposed housing estate at St George’s Hospital – traffic lights, a mini-roundabout or enhanced roundabout.

No decision has been made about the Dark Lane junction, but the large roundabout is emerging as the front runner.

And Morpeth Town Council has been approached to approve the transfer of land from Tommy’s Field Allotments to make way for it.

The deal, proposed by Northumberland County Council, would see land near East Riding Care Home allocated to replace the lost plots.

Members were told that around 400sqm, about seven plots, would be taken from Tommy’s Field, while the alternative site would offer up to 4,000sqm.

However, the Tommy’s Field Allotments Association is opposed to the deal and says it has been given little detail about it.

Chairman Rod Bramald said: “We wish to register our strongest possible objection to the proposals for a roundabout as currently described.

“Within the current state of affairs, we appear to have to assume our passive agreement to the principle of a roundabout without giving ourselves and our members an opportunity to consider in detail the actual proposal being made.”

He said members wished to see the calculations used to estimate the amount of land that would be taken as plots are already being lost due to leaf shade and root encroachment from trees.

The association is also concerned about the alternative site.

It says it is too far from existing plots and would need considerable work, including providing car parking space, rabbit-proof fencing, paths and water, while the current pedestrian and vehicle access is dangerous.

Former Chairman Phil Slater added: “The legality regarding transferring allotment sites states quite clearly that the alternative site has to allow accessibility for disabled and elderly people. Many of our members are elderly and we also have several disabled people. The new site is totally inadequate for those people.”

Councillors were told that they were only to consider the transfer of land in principle as all other matters were for other committees or future discussion.

Coun Les Cassie said: “I would be in favour of this town council having a much larger section of land for allotments and in that location, provided that it is transferred to us in a condition where it would be viable for allotments with no cost to Morpeth Town Council.”

But members Adrian Slassor and Ken Brown said more detail was needed.

Coun Slassor said: “I would rather not agree in principle until we get all the detail. We have to be very careful what we are agreeing to. We have a duty of care to the people of Morpeth and we have to get this right.”

Coun Nic Best proposed the transfer in principle, subject to conditions and the planning committee agreeing that a roundabout is the best and only option. The new site would have to be made suitable for allotments at no cost to the council, and if conditions could not be met then the deal would fall through.

The committee approved the transfer in principle by four votes to two.