Estate will meet housing shortfall, claims builder

NEW housing in the south of Morpeth is required to help make up for a shortfall over the last few years, according to the applicant.

A planning inquiry at the Town Hall heard that the need for more affordable housing is even greater and Bellway’s scheme in Loansdean will provide a significant amount of these properties.

But combining the figures for the former Castle Morpeth and Tynedale boroughs as part of its submission has been questioned by the South Morpeth Coalition (SMC) group opposing the plans.

The two parties broadly agree on how many new homes will be delivered in the next five years, following updated information by Northumberland County Council, but they differ in how many should be built.

SMC says the total required for Castle Morpeth and Tynedale, referred to in reports commissioned by the authority as part of the South and West Housing Market Area, is 1,137 using the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) five percent buffer and 1,329 for the more stringent 20 percent requirement.

In both cases, it predicts a surplus from schemes in development.

But Sandra Thompson, of Signet Planning, argued it should be 1,773 (20 percent buffer) because it was vital to try to reverse the decline in new builds since 2009 as opposed to looking at the 2004-12 period which the SMC had done.

Her figures also said Northumberland will be well short of its affordable homes requirement, even after adding the 100 units which will form part of the 200-home Loansdean scheme.

She said: “Three years is a continual demonstration that there is a problem with delivery and something needs to be done to rectify this situation.

“And we also believe the market area does not have the a deliverable supply of five-year housing as required by the NPPF.

“This scheme provides a unique opportunity to deliver affordable housing as Bellway owns the land so there are no significant obstacles to prevent it from delivering a 50 percent rate. It is an extremely important consideration because this type of property is urgently needed.

“The site is not prejudicial to the consideration of future development options for Morpeth given its limited scale and discrete nature as a small urban extension.”

According to the Signet data, the former Tynedale area is projected to have a larger shortfall than Castle Morpeth over the next five years and it has been given the 20 percent NPPF buffer requirement by the county council.

In response to this, David Holden, of the SMC, said: “Even if 20 percent were to be considered applicable to Tynedale, it defies common sense to also burden Castle Morpeth with such a demand, all because of an artificial link between the two areas drawn up by a consultant.

“The practical ramifications would be even more nonsensical – possibly allowing building on a green field in Morpeth due to a shortage of housing in the Tyne Valley.”

Ms Thompson also addressed the argument that housing on this scale should be put on hold until Morpeth comes up with its own Neighbourhood Plan to set out the priority areas for development.

“The NPPF places an emphasis on the need for continuous development and in my view concurs with the position that it would be unrealistic for all development to be put on hold whilst there are short-term delivery requirements,” she said.