Developers join in with Plan process

Developers have taken up the offer to get involved in the formation of Morpeth’s Neighbourhood Plan.

The community-led document is being drawn up this year to form the basis of future planning principles for the town and surrounding villages.

As part of the process, would-be developers in the area have been given the opportunity to have their say.

Community representatives held a meeting with developers and landowners to outline details of the Plan process and timescale.

House builders Linden Homes, with Galliford Try, and Persimmon Homes gave presentations on proposals for development in the north of Morpeth, which was followed by a general question and answer session.

A number of issues were discussed, including flood risk, grey water systems, housing mix, social housing, sustainability, brownfield sites and the visual impact of development.

Leslie Starkie, who is leading the Developer Engagement Group, said: “It is important that developers are made aware of the neighbourhood planning process as the Neighbourhood Plan, when finalised and approved, will form part of the statutory development plan and will be used to help determine future planning applications.”

Ten developers and landowners attended the meeting.

At a meeting of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee members said they were pleased with how the session turned out.

Coun David Parker, who chairs the Plan housing topic group, said: “It was an occasion that we thought could be difficult because there was a major planning inquiry going on a few days later, which clearly meant one particular developer had concerns.

“We also knew there was an issue with another major developer who is concerned about the Stobhill area, and various other developers who have concerns in and around the Morpeth area.

“To hold that sort of meeting, with that sort of dialogue, was always going to be tricky, but actually the meeting went quite well.

“A number of developers were prepared to enter the question and answer session, but others were quiet. I’m not sure whether that was because they didn’t have anything to say, or whether they felt it was politic not to say anything in that particular context.

“We stressed that this was the beginning of the process and the Neighbourhood Plan steering group would be very pleased to hear from the developers again.”

Coun Nic Best added: “I thought it was a difficult meeting that went relatively well and we can look forward to further discussions with the developers in due course.”