Housing project requires a flood risk assessment

A scheme to convert a former hotel and business venue on the edge of Morpeth into private housing will have to overcome a planning hurdle.

Longhirst Hall’s owners, Felton Property & Investments, lodged an application to turn the site into 27 apartments and four private dwellings earlier this summer.

There have been no objections from local residents and Longhirst Parish Council after an open day took place at the site, which gave people the opportunity to view the plans and speak to Felton Property & Investments director Stephen Cowell.

But the Environment Agency has requested that a flood risk assessment must be carried out before it can give its approval.

In its letter to Northumberland County Council, the organisation says: “The application site lies mostly within flood zone 1 and at low risk of fluvial flooding, however the eastern part of the development is in flood zone 3, defined by the Environment Agency Flood Map as having a high probability of flooding.”

Before it became a hotel, wedding venue and conference centre, the 19th century hall was a family home, an approved school and a community home for boys.

New buildings were installed in the early 1990s and they were used by Northumbria University and the former Castle Morpeth Council. Under the plans, the exterior of the original building would remain the same.

Longhirst Parish Council clerk Ian Thompson said: “Most people locally would rather see the building used for housing purposes than go into decay.

“This happened in the 1980s and it had to be restored when it was taken on in the early 1990s.”