DEVELOPMENT: We must not be discouraged
A meeting held in the Town Hall was packed with Morpeth residents keen to make their views known about the latest ill thought-out and piecemeal plans proposed for the County hall site.
I believe the ‘County Hall project’ is being rushed through with unseemly haste in the hope that all will be completed before the county council elections next May.
This is evidenced by the speed at which land assets are being sold and the derisory public consultation (four hours only) to set out three proposals for a school, 200 houses and a commercial development.
It comes as no surprise that to effect this, Northumberland County Council plans to breach the Neighbourhood Plan yet again, demonstrating utter contempt for a legal document expressing the will of the local people.
The leader of the council fills column inches in this newspaper bemoaning the difficulties raised by central government cuts, while simultaneously embarking on a spending spree that is truly breathtaking.
He fails to understand why the people of Morpeth are so incensed with his grand ideas to “improve” this market town.
Morpeth residents are well aware of the future effects of encircling the town with houses and allowing out-of-town commercial developments to a degree way beyond common sense.
Already the impact of increased traffic and bottlenecks are being felt, even before the estimated 3,000 houses are completed, well before the end of the planned period in 2031.
Why are there are no plans to complete the link from the A197 to Stobhill, currently part of the County Hall site?
This opportunity will be lost forever if houses are built there.
Why are there no plans in place for the ageing Telford Bridge, or increased car parking in the town?
The new Morpeth ‘relief’ road will not solve the problem of cars in the town centre, where increased footfall is both needed and expected.
Those who wish to live here do so for its excellent schools, soon to be at bursting point, and its green location.
Where are the projections and plans for increasing numbers of children?
Assumptions that doctors, dentists, etc will automatically follow the rash of houses founders in the face of a nationwide shortage of GPs.
Many people have worked hard to voice their objections to individual schemes, and supported our excellent town council via the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan and its continuing attempts to seek proportion in all aspects of developing the town.
Not surprisingly, there is a certain amount of objection fatigue at large, a feeling of being ignored as more developments get the green light.
Now Northumberland County Council aims to make “further” major modifications to its emerging Core Strategy in order to overturn the Neighbourhood Plan a second time, thus making its County Hall fantasy a reality.
This is the last straw.
It is up to us to reinvigorate our fight, to make a concerted effort to thwart the council’s ambitions.
It has underestimated the determination of Morpeth people to defend our town, we must not be discouraged.