Anger after appeal over 24-hour car park plan

The Morrisons supermarket at Morpeth.
The Morrisons supermarket at Morpeth.

Residents are furious after a supermarket appealed a decision to reject its bid to allow 24-hour access to its one of its car parks.

Morrisons sought permission for staff to use its underground facility near its Morpeth store off Dark Lane around the clock.

But its application was turned down by Northumberland County Council in November. The authority ruled that this would ‘unacceptably harm the living conditions of occupiers of properties on Staithes Lane’.

Morpeth Town Council and Morpeth Civic Society also objected to the proposal.

The company has now decided to appeal and people living in Staithes Lane are frustrated as they thought the matter had been done and dusted.

One of the residents, Marcus Hopper, said: “We’re hugely disappointed because we had a meeting with the store manager, which he called, and we thought everything was sorted.

“He proposed opening the underground car park up at 6am so his early morning staff could use it and it would be closed at 8pm instead of 10pm at the moment.

“We refused as we already get enough disruption in the morning because the deliveries start at 7am. The cars would have to go into the car park from about 5.30am because the manager will want his staff ready at their station at 6pm.

“We suggested that these staff park by the cash point next to the store when they arrive and they can then take 10 minutes at 8am to move their cars into the underground facility (a long-stay car park).

“We heard nothing afterwards, so we presumed that the manager was able to put in place a workable arrangement. However, we received a letter telling us that Morrisons has appealed the refusal. We suspect that the decision was taken at a higher level in the company.”

The other main concern among residents if the application is approved is that people described as ‘boy racers’ would go into the car park late at night, further reducing the period of quiet.

Morrisons opened its new store in Low Stanners in July 2013. At the same time, it closed its outlet in Stanley Terrace. It was thought that a new food store would occupy this building, but earlier this year, developer Dransfield Properties submitted a planning application to create three new retail units.

It said that supermarket development has slowed down significantly, so there is no current demand to build one in the Morpeth area.

The units would be created on the footprint of the existing store, with one single storey, another one-and-a-half storeys, and the third two storeys high, with glazing installed to open views to Dark Lane.

The proposal also includes the Express Taxis office in Morpeth Bus Station moving across the road, opposite the taxi rank, and extending the Corbridge Larder.

It suffered a setback when the Environment Agency said it objects to the application at the moment because the flood risk assessment (FRA) submitted on behalf of Dransfield was ‘not acceptable’.

A revised FRA has now been lodged with the county council.