Developers bid for 395 new homes

ALMOST 400 new homes could be built on the edge of Morpeth.

Barratt David Wilson Homes and Tees Valley Housing have presented plans for up to 395 houses to be built to the south of Stobhill, on fields between the A192 and A196.

Leaflets advising of the proposals were dropped through doors last week and an exhibition was held at Morpeth Parish Hall on Friday and Saturday.

The development would include affordable housing, footpaths and cycleways, public open space, landscaping and wildlife links.

But Morpeth Stobhill county councillor, Ian Lindley, said there is huge local concern about the plans and an action group may be formed to oppose them.

He said: “Residents are very concerned about this, and I am as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if residents pull together an action group and if that happens, I would want to help and advise that group. Judging by the amount of emails and phone calls I have had about this issue, I think that will happen.”

The proposals are for executive family homes, with a mix of two to five bedrooms, gardens and landscaping, and 30 per cent of the development would be affordable housing.

The developers also plan to install children’s play facilities and say there will be extensive new landscaping and ecological enhancements, with existing features ‘retained where possible’. Mature trees would be retained and a new wildlife wetland zone would be created, while the existing railway corridor would be improved and broadened to make travel easier for migrating wildlife.

Coun Lindley said the main worries about the scheme centre on its location and the lack of infrastructure in place to support it.

“In principle I have no objection to appropriate housing being built anywhere in Morpeth, providing it incorporates an element of affordable housing and a good social mix, not just executive-type housing, but the problem with this particular site is it just lacks the infrastructure to support it and in particular the transport links,” he said.

“If there are 400 houses, you will have around 800 additional vehicles on the road and trying to access the town of Morpeth to go north over the Telford Bridge.

“My concern is the infrastructure and traffic, but also schools. The local schools are all full — the high schools, middle schools and even the first schools are all chock-a-bloc.

“Siting a big new estate here, which makes Morpeth sprawl further into the countryside to join up to Hepscott, really isn’t the best idea.”

Resident Derek Thompson said there is virtual unanimous opposition in the area to the plans.

“There were a lot of people who went to the presentation and almost everyone there was against it,” he said.

“The reasons are very simple — there will be something like another 700 cars added to the traffic we already have in Stobhill, and it would breach the A196, which has always been the traditional boundary between Hepscott and this area of Morpeth.

“The development won’t do anything for the people of Morpeth. They are talking about giving some money for highways work as planning gain, but that will soon disappear and I don’t think anybody here will see anything from it.

“In my experience, this is about the sixth company that has tried to get permission to build on that site, but it is good agricultural land and they are not making any more of that, once it is gone, it is gone.

“The people in Stobhill are concerned because this is an unpopular proposal and that is virtually the unanimous feeling among the residents. We don’t like it.”

A planning application is expected to be submitted soon to Northumberland County Council.