An outline bid for a housing development on a brownfield site in Mitford was narrowly approved by councillors last week.
Northumbrian Water had applied for outline permission for up to seven homes on the site of the former water treatment works, which have been redundant for about 15 years.
At last Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee, the scheme was recommended for approval, but a split over what type of homes should be built on the site led to a 3-3 vote.
In the end, chairman Coun Dougie Watkin used his deciding vote to support the plans.
The applicant has indicated that the homes are likely to be executive-type homes, although the exact details will be submitted at the full application stage.
Plus due to the the recent changes to the law, no contribution to affordable housing elsewhere can be requested as the development is of less than 10 properties.
Coun Mike Sharp, chairman of Mitford Parish Council, told the meeting that they are in favour of the site being redeveloped for housing, but question the need for executive homes, saying there is a shortage of low-cost and mid-range housing in the village.
“When it says there is a demand for executive homes, I think it means there’s more profit in executive homes,” he added.
An agent for the applicant said that there was a proven need for this type of housing and also pointed out that the development would attract economically active residents to the village, which, in turn, would increase spend in the local area.
Coun Trevor Thorne moved approval of the outline plans, but added that he hoped the county council’s planning officers would try to push the applicant to consider housing of different types.
“We want Northumbrian Water to make their money, but at the same time, it would be marvellous if the needs of the village were met,” he said.
By contrast, Coun Gavin Jones said he couldn’t support the scheme because it wasn’t an application for low-density affordable housing.
But others agreed with the planning officer’s report that the site was not necessarily suitable for affordable homes due to its location.
Coun Andrew Tebbutt pointed out that you would usually want them to be built close to services, which was not the case here.