Decision due on retirement flats plan

A CONTROVERSIAL bid for retirement flats in Morpeth has been recommended for approval.

Officers at Northumberland County Council have called on its north area planning committee to grant permission to McCarthy and Stone’s apartment block application for a site off Cottingwood Lane.

This is despite a 420-name petition collected by the Cottingwood Lane Residents’ Action Group and 112 objections being lodged with the committee.

Their concerns include road safety issues, the site is unsuitable, loss of green space, inadequate access, flood risk, over-development, insufficient parking and that it could prejudice the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Morpeth Town Council is also strongly against the proposal and it raised 14 separate points in its objection.

But in a report to the committee, Principal Planning Officer Vivienne Robinson said: “It is considered that the proposed development would not have a detrimental visual impact upon the character of the area or a detrimental impact on the amenities of surrounding residential properties.

“Although there are a number of alternative brownfield sites within Morpeth which would better fulfil the objectives of the sequential test, it is considered that the applicant has demonstrated that these alternative sites are not suitable for the type of development proposed.

“Some would not be viable due to size of the site and some are constrained by factors such as flood risk.”

The apartment block would be located on the Old Headmaster’s Lawn near King Edward VI School and 51 flats would be built.

Steve Secker, Regional Managing Director of McCarthy and Stone, said: “We’re very happy that the officer has recommended our application for approval ahead of the committee meeting on Thursday. Through our extensive consultation with the local community we’ve been able to listen to concerns and as a result have made changes to our proposals which we feel address their concerns.

“We also plan to make a financial contribution to secure the required improvements to Cottingwood Lane, which will also work as a traffic calming system.”

At the same meeting in Alnwick tonight, the committee will be asked to approve a bid by architect John Hare to build a three-storey property at the entrance to Dene View, off the A192.

Fierce opposition has been voiced by residents of the nearby Pottery Bank Court, who have described the design as a “hideous carbuncle” that is totally out of character with the rest of the housing in that area.

A total of 16 letters of objection and a petition with 200 signatures have been submitted.

However, officers say the proposal is appropriately designed in relation to the character of the site and its surroundings and it would not have a detrimental impact on the amenities of nearby homes.