Developers insist they are fully behind plans for a roundabout as the Government stalls over the necessary land transfer.
The Herald reported last month that moves to create a roundabout for access to Morpeth NHS Centre and potential housing development at the former St George’s Hospital site had hit a snag over the transfer of allotment land from Tommy’s Field.
Land from about seven plots would be required to accommodate the facility, and a much larger site next to East Riding care home had been identified for replacement allotments by Morpeth Town Council and Northumberland County Council.
However, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which must approve the land transfer, has said it has not yet seen enough evidence to justify the switch as a planning application by Linden Homes states that a traffic light junction will suffice.
No decision has yet been issued and the land transfer application is still live, but more information has been requested.
Now the housing developer has stressed that it remains supportive of the roundabout plan.
A Linden Homes spokesman said: “We remain supportive, as we always have been, of the town council and county council in this application to enable land to be brought forward to deliver a roundabout.
“As part of our comprehensive transport modelling we looked at whether a roundabout could be provided, but a mini-roundabout was found to provide insufficient capacity, whilst a larger one requires land outside of the control of both Linden Homes and Northumberland County Council.
“Conversely, our modelling has demonstrated that the signalised junction would be a technically robust and deliverable solution, which is what the application is currently for.
“However, we understand that the preferred solution of the local community would be a roundabout, and as such we have invested a significant amount of time in exploring ways in which a roundabout could be delivered, working closely with officers at Northumberland County Council.
“This position has not changed and we will continue to liaise closely with Northumberland County Council and the DCLG to provide any further information that is required.”
The developer also maintains that its application for 374 new homes at St George’s, with 119 in the first phase, should not be held up by the issue.
“As no highways improvement works are required until the hundredth home is occupied on site, there is no reason why development of this redundant brownfield site should not begin whilst the DCLG considers its decision, subject to planning permission being granted,” the spokesman said.
However, Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee has voted unanimously to object to the housing application unless a roundabout is included in the plan. Members decided to strengthen their comments following the request from DCLG for more evidence to justify the allotment transfer, stressing that traffic lights would not be acceptable for the junction.
Meanwhile, Tommy’s Field Allotment Association remains fiercely opposed to the plan to remove any land from plots, saying the alternative suggested allotment site has not been shown to be suitable.