Anger at works delay next to housing site

From left, Coun David Cowans of Hepscott Parish Council, guide dog user Ace McCollum, who is also concerned about the delay, and Coun Alison Byard.
From left, Coun David Cowans of Hepscott Parish Council, guide dog user Ace McCollum, who is also concerned about the delay, and Coun Alison Byard.

Residents and councillors have urged a housebuilder to complete agreed improvement works by its major site in Morpeth, following a delay that has left a ‘dangerous situation’ in place.

Residents living at Barratt Homes North East’s South Fields development between Stobhill and Hepscott, and Northumberland County Council, Morpeth Town Council and Hepscott Parish Council representatives were encouraged when it agreed at a meeting to carry out additional footpath works to benefit both South Fields and neighbouring residents, along with the planned new Toucan crossing and bus stop.

There was a 12-week timescale from the end of January, but that has now arrived with the main works only partially completed and the extra matters not started.

This means that even though South Fields is close to Stobhillgate First School, parents and their children still have to walk across both carriageways of the A196 in order to get there and at the moment, they also have to navigate an uneven path.

One such parent is Morpeth town councillor Rachael Hogg. Her daughter is in Year 2 at the school.

She said: “I am disappointed that despite several requests from myself for updates, there has been little to no progress and communication seems to have come to a dead end.

“The A196 is now more difficult than ever to cross to get our children to school. It’s a dangerous situation and there is no end in sight to the highway works.”

Another parent, Alana Kelly, described the current journey as ‘treacherous’ and said her grandmother fell when she was walking to the bus stop past the school entrance.

Stobhill ward Morpeth Town councillor Alison Byard said: “This is an important safety matter, so we need Barratt to complete these works as soon as possible.”

Phil Ashmore, Hepscott Parish Council chairman, added: “The delay is worrying as the busy road is crossed every day by small children, cyclists, elderly and vulnerable people on their way to school and into Morpeth. We will continue to closely monitor progress.”

A Barratt Homes North East spokesman said: “We apologise to residents for any inconvenience the surfacing has caused.

“Works to surface the footpaths, cycleway and bus layby in the area and development of the Toucan crossing are back under way and we are working closely with our partners at the local councils to have this completed as soon as possible.

“There is an alternative crossing point available at the western end of South Fields, on an existing footpath and cycle route, which we encourage people to use in the interim while we closely monitor completion of the works.”

A county council spokesman said: “The council is aware of local concerns about delays in implementing the required infrastructure associated with Barratt’s Stobhill development.

“We have written to the developer about their programme for the works and have requested a timescale for these to be undertaken.

“A response is awaited.”