Details fail to convince objectors

OBJECTORS are standing firm against a Morpeth housing scheme, despite developers submitting extra information.

McCarthy and Stone is seeking permission to build an apartment block on the Old Headmaster’s Lawn near King Edward VI School to provide 51 retirement flats.

But the scheme has attracted fierce opposition, with a 420-name petition collected by the Cottingwood Lane Residents’ Action Group and 14 separate objections listed by Morpeth Town Council.

Now the applicant has sought to address two of the concerns — the availability of other suitable sites and sight-lines from the proposed access, with reports saying there are no alternative sites in the area and drivers will be able to see Cottingwood Lane adequately from the new planned entrance.

However, the reports have failed to convince the objectors.

Action group spokesman Les Cassie told members of the town council’s Planning and Transport Committee last week that the assessment of sites had ruled out all those in a flood risk area, ignoring the plans for a multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme, and found others were too small when they were just a fraction smaller than the site proposed.

He added that the information did not address concerns about pedestrians and drivers having enough time to see each other if a person was crossing the road.

Coun Nic Best said: “It does not seem that the developers have addressed the issues raised in the previous objections and they should be reiterated.”

And Coun Ken Brown added: “It was only a couple of months ago when we objected to this very strongly, with 14 separate points. It doesn’t look like any of these points have been satisfactorily addressed so we should submit the 14 objections again.”

The comments will be passed to Northumberland County Council, which will determine the application.

Objections include the loss of green space, over-development, inadequate access, road safety, insufficient parking, flood risk and disruption from construction, as well as fears that the scheme could prejudice the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Steve Secker, Northern Region Managing Director, explained what McCarthy and Stone has set out in its additional comments.

“We have a process that is followed when selecting sites for our Later Living (Sheltered Accommodation) which is very different from other forms of housing,” he said.

“Through this process we believe the site on Cottingwood Lane is an excellent location for retirement accommodation, with the variety of facilities and services assisting residents in maintaining an independent lifestyle.

“Following discussions with the highways department, we have now revised our access proposals to reflect its suggestions and have also submitted these to Northumberland County Council.

“Our proposals include lowering a section of the existing stone wall by 100mm and the introduction of an additional traffic calming measure in front of the site entrance. We are also proposing to relocate the existing telegraph pole to accommodate the new access.”