Campaigners are ready for another housing battle

CAMPAIGNERS are warming up for what they hope will be the final battle to block Morpeth housing plans.

A public inquiry will begin next week to examine plans by Bellway Homes to build up to 200 houses on a greenfield site in Loansdean.

The house-builder is appealing two planning refusals from Northumberland County Council, one for 186 homes that was turned down in September, and another for 200 homes that was rejected in February 2012 and was thrown out by an inspector in August that year, but was re-opened following a High Court challenge.

For the second time in 18 months the South Morpeth Coalition residents’ group will be leading the opposition after the council decided not to defend the appeals.

Coalition member David Holden said: “We have submitted our evidence and we are now going through the evidence of the developers to prepare our questions.

“The main arguments are about the five-year housing supply, affordable housing, sustainability and we will spend much more time this time on flood risk.

“We have five or six days of experience behind us now so that helps us a little bit.”

Morpeth Town Council is also opposing the plans.

Coun David Parker said: “There are three objections. One is about prematurity, the second is about development in the town being strategically planned and therefore it should be in the north, and the third is about the settlement boundary.

“What is informing most of our arguments is the public response to the Issues and Options Neighbourhood Plan consultation. The arguments about prematurity are stronger than they were previously because the Plan is moving forward now at quite a significant rate.”

The inquiry will be held at Morpeth Town Hall over six days, from Tuesday to Thursday next week, and from Wednesday to Friday the following week. Sessions are expected to start at 10am.