Another successful appeal over refused homes in Northumberland hamlet

The ongoing sprawl of new homes in the hamlet of Medburn continues to be a thorn in the side of Northumberland County Council.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 10:41 am
Looking down towards the site of the approved homes on land north of Dyke House in Medburn. Picture by Ben O'Connell

Last April, members of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council decided to take a stand and reject the latest in a series of bids for more housing – an outline application for two, two-and-a-half-storey properties on land north of Dyke House.

Councillors went against the advice of the planning officers, who recommended approval on a site which already had permission for one large detached property, and that has now come back to haunt them.

The unadopted and narrow The Avenue through Medburn has been the source of constant concerns. Picture by Ben O'Connell

The applicant has successfully appealed the refusal, with the planning inspector also ruling that the county council must pay David Dixon’s legal costs, as it had been ‘unreasonable’ in rejecting the application while providing no evidence to support its reasons for turning it down.

This follows another successful appeal at the end of last year in the settlement to the south-west of Ponteland, which has seen a raft of housing applications approved in recent years.

In that case, Ethical Partnership’s outline application for up to 16 new homes on land between Tynedale and Dyke House, Northumberland taxpayers also had to pick up the bill for the applicant’s legal costs.

The main issues in the latest appeal were the effect on the character of the area and highway safety – with the private, unadopted and narrow The Avenue the source of constant concerns, plus whether future occupiers would have adequate access to facilities and services.

In relation to character and appearance, inspector Edwina Symmons said that two-and-a-half-storey homes would match the size of those which have already been built, while the ‘footprint would be approximate to that of the extant permission for a large detached property which it would replace’.

On the highways concerns, she stated: ‘I sympathise with views expressed by residents regarding the safety of the junction, the condition of The Avenue and concern that increased levels of use would affect pedestrian and cyclist safety.

‘There is also concern that construction traffic in general has led to increased traffic levels with associated disturbance, inconvenience and uncertainty regarding costs and responsibilities for repair.

‘However, one additional dwelling would not be likely to have a significant effect upon these matters.’

On the third issue, the inspector concluded that ‘despite the rural setting, due to the relative proximity of nearby settlements which can be accessed by means other than private car and the modest scale of the proposals, I find that the location has adequate access to facilities and services’.

Overall, she said: ‘I have considered the development on its own merits and found that it would have safe and suitable access and there would be facilities and services available in the nearby settlements.

‘I have also taken into account that planning permission has recently been granted for other similar development both generally in Medburn, and on the appeal site itself.’

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service