Dismay at yet more development plans

Detailed plans to build another 225 homes on the edge of Morpeth have been opposed by town councillors.

Morpeth Town Council accepted a proposal in principle for the development of housing at Northgate Hospital three years ago, and an outline application was approved by Northumberland County Council.

Now Taylor Wimpey has submitted a full detailed application to activate the consent, but following planning permission for hundreds of homes to be built at Fairmoor and Loansdean, town councillors are uneasy about the bid.

Coun David Parker said: “We now find ourselves in a situation where 255 houses have been approved by the county’s planning committee at Fairmoor and we also know that at this site outline permission has already been given. What is being created is an unsustainable development on the edge of the town, which goes right against the National Planning Policy Framework.

“We are in difficulty because we have already supported the outline planning permission previously so we can’t object to this in principle, but I find it very difficult to take part in this discussion because I’m so appalled by the situation that we are now landed in in the town, particularly in this particular area.

“This council is committed to the Neighbourhood Plan process, but unfortunately it is being undermined.”

Members of the town’s Planning and Transport Committee said that while they could not object in principle to the development, there were a number of concerns about the detailed plans.

Acting Chairman Bob Robertson said there is significant anxiety about the lack of information on flooding and drainage, while other members highlighted access and provision of services.

Coun Parker said: “The developer will have to answer these questions.

“While we have agreed with the principle of development, we should say that there are other concerns about services, drainage and all sorts of other issues that are not being addressed. For example, the footpath along to Lancaster Park is not suitable for under fives or teenagers.

“It is utterly frustrating to plant 500 houses there without services, it really is.”

Coun Nic Best was equally alarmed.

He said: “We haven’t seen the detail we need on the drainage system, the sewage system, it hasn’t addressed the flood risk along the Cotting Burn, and there is nothing about the lack of community facilities. This is just for houses.

“We have heard nothing about the impact on transport or the impact on the landscaped approach to Morpeth.

“We have seen no detail about any of this therefore we are objecting.

“We also have some significant concerns about how all this development fits into the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, which is the thing that is shaping development in Morpeth.”

He added: “As part of the Neighbourhood Plan process we are trying to get developer engagement, trying to get developers to express their vision for the town as a whole. We haven’t had a lot of success.”

The committee has also requested that the county council defers a decision on the scheme until councillors have had a chance to discuss the plans with developers.

Coun Parker said: “I feel that the county planning department should delay hearing this application until the developers have a chance to speak to us and answer these questions.”