A controversial £80million development plan for Morpeth greenfield land has been submitted to council planners.
The Mitford Estate is seeking planning permission for hundreds of homes, a 60-bed hotel, restaurant, roadside service area, allotments and parkland on a site west of Lancaster Park.
It is on my own doorstep. I live in Mitford so I appreciate the area and I want a nice place to live.Bruce Shepherd
The proposals were first unveiled at a public exhibition in Morpeth Town Hall in November, when they drew some criticism.
And earlier this year, the Morpeth North Residents’ Action Group was established to co-ordinate local opposition to the scheme.
However, estate owner Bruce Shepherd said the plans have been amended to take account of residents’ comments.
“When we went to the public consultation we got one or two people expressing their opinions on how we should move things around a bit so we have done that to suit the houses in Lancaster Park,” he said.
“We are also increasing the allotments on the riverside. We are trying to do as much as we can to meet the social needs.
“We have had lots of enquiries already from people who are renting houses in Lancaster Park and people who live around the Mitford area. People are very interested in the houses and there will be social housing as well.
“So far, the plans have had a good reaction. It has delighted me that people are saying they want to move to the site and they are local people.”
Objectors argue the use of greenfield land is unnecessary as recent planning approvals will meet local housing needs, and the proposed site is outside the settlement boundary and earmarked to be safeguarded in both the draft Core Strategy and Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan.
They say further development north of Morpeth should not be considered until the impact of the Morpeth Northern Bypass can be assessed, with other concerns centred on potential flooding, sewerage capacity, traffic, the environment and pressure on schools, doctors and other services.
But Mr Shepherd says that the scheme will bring substantial benefits, providing around 200 jobs and business opportunities.
Affordable housing would make up 30 per cent of the total homes, while the new parkland would be accessible to all and include ponds, woodland walks and new footpath links between Lancaster Park and Mitford.
“What we are trying to do is make it a lovely place to live, but also employ 200 people in the roadside service area and the hotel,” he said.
“Morpeth hasn’t got a hotel to attract people to come to Morpeth. There are three B&Bs, which are very nice, but if we want to bring more people into Morpeth, visitors and tourists, we need somewhere for them to stay.
“The new park will benefit not only the development, but the people of Lancaster Park as well. From Mitford Road, there will be parking for people to use the park and there will be access through Lancaster Park to the new park. That has got to be a benefit in my opinion.
“We are trying to put something back for the benefit of people in Mitford and Lancaster Park.
“We are keeping this development very tight and doing it with our own people from the area. It is on my own doorstep.
“I live in Mitford so I appreciate the area and I want a nice place to live.”
He added: “We will have one or two people who have their own views and I respect their views. I want to try to work with them so the benefits of this are far reaching for the community – new jobs, making good facilities that will help Morpeth, and having a 60-bed hotel for tourists and business people to stay with money they will spend in the area.
“It is a good development.”