The green belt put paid to plans for six detached bungalows, despite recognition that this is a type of housing that’s much needed in Northumberland.
Northumberland County Council planning officers had recommended refusal of the scheme, for land to the rear of 26 Station Road, Stannington, as ‘inappropriate development’ in the green belt.
And members of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council narrowly supported this at their meeting on Monday (October 8), rejecting the bid by five votes to three with two abstentions.
As well as the fact that new bungalows would be welcome, councillors were in two minds because the site is the garden of an existing home and is directly next to a site being developed for housing by the same applicant.
Questioned about this, the council’s planning manager, Liz Sinnamon, said: “Garden or back-land development can be appropriate, but this is green belt and that’s a higher test.”
Asked about the neighbouring site, she explained that this was a previously developed (brownfield) site, which was why it was granted permission.
The site in question is currently being used as a construction compound while the next-door development is built, but this is a temporary measure and it must be returned to garden land after completion.
Coun David Towns said: “I get the arguments about green belt and we have already had too much green-belt development in recent years. I think a move to protect green belt by this council is to be welcomed.
“But I’m not sure I can reconcile that with what’s in front of me. It’s a garden, it’s not open countryside. The fact it’s technically green belt is why and I get the sense it’s a reluctant recommendation.
“This type of housing is what’s actually needed. I feel the applicant could make arguments at appeal and we would be at risk of losing so I can’t support this recommendation.”
But Coun John Beynon said: “I can see both sides, but I think we have to start taking a stance and protect the green belt.”
Coun Richard Dodd, who moved the refusal, concluded: “There is a demand for bungalows and it is with great sadness I do propose this.
“The green-belt policy is a very, very strong tool. Small villages and hamlets may not benefit in the way that larger places do because they can get killed off.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service