Village joins fight against homes bid

Residents and councillors hand in the petition to John Dowset, Principal Planning Officer at NCC.
Residents and councillors hand in the petition to John Dowset, Principal Planning Officer at NCC.

PEOPLE living in Hepscott are up in arms over plans for up to 395 homes near their village.

Residents have raised concerns about the application put forward by Barratt David Wilson Homes and Tees Valley Housing.

And many of them are supporting the campaign opposing the bid for a site south of the A196, which is between the village and the Stobhill area of Morpeth.

Chairman of Hepscott Parish Council, Phil Ashmore, said: “There is a very strong feeling around Hepscott against these plans.

“People are furious about the traffic chaos and noise 600 extra cars will cause. We only have 400 houses in the whole of the parish, so to double that with one estate will put an intolerable burden on the roads into Morpeth, which are congested enough as it is, and on the rest of the infrastructure – sewers, drainage, schools and services.

“All that traffic will converge on the Telford Bridge and so the congestion there will be much worse.

“Flooding is also a real worry as Barratt aims to cover 43 acres of fields with homes, concrete and tarmac and the rain and run-off from that site would go south into Hepscott, not into Morpeth.

“Hepscott has experienced severe flooding over the last five years and all that run-off will eventually end up in the Hepscott Burn, compounding the misery of those affected.

“If you have ever been flooded, you never forget it.

“We are joining forces with the Morpeth Action Group to oppose these plans. We are all desperately disappointed that Barratt is prematurely trying to jump the gun and rush through this application before the land is designated greenbelt or safeguarded land.

“A green, tranquil area forming a lovely approach to Morpeth and separating the town from the rural villages will be lost, turned into a housing estate.

“While Morpeth is trying so hard to generate tourist jobs, this will be counter-productive in so many ways.”

Meanwhile, a delegation from the Morpeth Action Group met with Northumberland County Council planning officers at County Hall on Tuesday to discuss the issues involved in the proposal.

They also took the opportunity to hand in a petition signed by more than 400 people objecting to the development, collected in Morpeth town centre over the last two Saturdays.

The group has received widescale public support and backing from councillors across the political spectrum.

Liberal Democrat town councillor Alison Byard, one of the ward members for Stobhill, said: “Approval of this large development would prejudice the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan, which is to be launched for public consultation next week.

“Development of this greenfield site would cause even greater traffic congestion on Stobhill and increase the flood risk to Morpeth and Hepscott.”

Charlotte Peacock, Deputy Chairman of Morpeth Conservatives and a Stobhill resident, was also present when the petition was handed in to the county council.

She said: “As someone who works in the field of development, I am familiar with both good developments and bad ones.

“This proposal is one of the most poorly thought-through that I have seen in a long time.

“The volume of housing is wrong, the location is wrong and the existing infrastructure is wholly inadequate.”

People can view the application at the county council’s website – ref 13/02416FUL.