Plans for a new housing development on the edge of Morpeth have sparked a major backlash from local residents.
More than 220 letters of objection have been submitted in relation to the outline application by Country Homes and Estates (Northern) Ltd and Sadler Developments Ltd for 39 self-build properties, including 11 affordable dwellings, on land west of High House.
Concerns over the bid include the belief that it would make the fairly narrow road more dangerous, have a detrimental impact for people living nearby and result in the loss of a valuable green space.
The site is made up of two adjacent fields – providing a total area of 5.1 hectares. It is bordered by ancient woodland to the northern and western sides and opens onto High House Road and the fairly recent development in Kirkhill mainly comprised of two-storey detached homes.
The applicants claim that they would provide the first site for sustainable and affordable self-build housing in Northumberland and meet a need for affordable properties in Morpeth.
There would also be a sustainable urban drainage system, landscaping, maintenance of open space by a management company and two new access points from the U6109.
But residents have outlined why they believe the site is an inappropriate location for housing.
In his response, local resident Malcolm Smith says: ‘High House Lane is a relatively narrow road of poor horizontal and vertical alignments along much of its length.
‘This is particularly so at a blind summit just south of the proposed site and at the bridge over the former railway.
‘To increase traffic along this road would pose increased safety risks for cyclists and pedestrians and other traffic, particularly at peak times.’
Elizabeth Ions expressed her fears that another valuable green space in Morpeth would be lost if the development was approved.
She added: ‘For Morpeth to retain its character, it is essential that we stop and think before we build.
‘At this rate, future generations will wonder what fields of grass are and will only see them referred to in history books.’
Ian Belsham’s response included the following: ‘Self-build sites always take significantly longer to develop due to their uncoordinated nature and the timescales involved.
‘This is likely to have a major detrimental impact (noise dust and construction traffic) for many years for ourselves, our neighbours and the residents of Kirkhill.’
Although it welcomed some aspects of the application, Northumberland Wildlife Trust has raised concerns about the impact it would have on white clawed crayfish and otters in the area.
If the initiative is approved, individual plots would be sold for purchasers to construct their own homes.
A planning statement on behalf of the applicants says: ‘The scheme includes new native tree planting. It will be adjacent and complementary to the local nature reserve and will conserve and reinforce existing wildlife corridors.
‘A review of the personal injury collision records has concluded that there are no inherent highway safety issues within the vicinity of the development site.’