Patients, doctors and surgery staff have come together to criticise Northumberland County Council for allowing new homes to be built before improvements are made at a key Morpeth junction.
Since the Morpeth NHS Centre opened in 2013, there have been calls for works to be carried out at the point where the link road meets Dark Lane to help vehicle access to and from the facility and reduce the potential for accidents.
Concerns were raised at a recent Northumberland County Council planning meeting where full permission was granted for the first phase of the scheme at the former St George’s Hospital further along from the health centre.
A total of 119 properties will be built once five existing buildings and 11 cottages are demolished.
Outline planning permission was also given for the second (115 new homes) and third (up to 141 dwellings) phases at the site.
At the meeting, planning officers said the contractor does not have to complete the junction works, the preferred option is a roundabout, until the 110th house is occupied or the 160th if the bypass is open by that time.
But the Greystoke Surgery, Gas House Lane Surgery and Greystoke Surgery Patient Participation Group disagree with this approach and it has sent a joint letter to the county council.
It says: ‘Whilst we support the scheme in principle, as it is developing a brownfield site to provide much needed housing, we do not support the current planned access arrangements during and after construction.
‘We believe that allowing construction lorries to use the current road layout is dangerous and will provide a major traffic risk to the users of the health centre, many of whom will be old, frail, infirm and are least able cope with dodging articulated lorries on a narrow road.’
A county council spokesman said: “The transport assessment submitted with the application, which has been scrutinised by two independent consultants on behalf of the council, concluded that the access to the site from Dark Lane as it currently exists can accommodate the traffic movements generated by up to 110 dwellings, or 160 dwellings once the Morpeth Northern Bypass is opened for use.
“One of the conditions attached to the approval requires the submission of a detailed construction traffic management plan to ensure that disruption to residential occupiers and other premises nearby, including the health centre, is kept to a minimum.”