Flipping great! Objectors welcome housing decision

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to change a Morpeth housing plan have been booted out by councillors.

Furious residents of The Kylins vented their anger over moves by Persimmon Homes to amend a previously-accepted scheme for housing development at the former Castle Morpeth Council headquarters site.

The applicant wanted to ‘flip’ some of the plots so that the houses would face on to the existing main Kylins distributer road, with parking facilities re-organised meaning three less on-street bays, but 11 extra off-street.

Another application proposed substituting split level house types for two storey and adding an extra dwelling, as well as associated road, parking, landscape and boundary changes.

The plans had sparked anger, fuelling petitions and a flood of objection letters, with residents arguing that the amendments significantly altered a development brief that had been drawn up with their involvement when the original proposal was approved by the former Castle Morpeth Council.

Despite the protests, planning officers had recommended the applications be approved, concluding that they would not have an adverse impact on the existing properties, street scene or residential amenity.

They also claimed that residents’ efforts to achieve a well thought-out, well-designed and sustainable development would not be in vain as the proposals would enhance what had already been agreed.

But at Northumberland County Council’s Area Planning Committee North there were calls for the recommendations to be overturned and refused.

Speakers objecting to the scheme were resident Maureen Waterston, Residents’ Association Secretary Joan Tebbutt and Town Councillor David Parker, as well as County Councillor Andrew Tebbutt.

And as each application was thrown out by majority verdicts, hordes of objectors who packed into the council chamber in Alnwick welcomed the decisions with applause.

After the meeting, Kylins resident Maureen Howes said: “My faith in the democratic process has been restored.

“It was quite impressive when the residents’ speakers quietly outlined the years we had spent working together with the original developers on forming an acceptable plan brief for what was an unusual brownfield site with a wildlife corridor running through it, and when the site was sold to this developer it was sold on the condition that the original plan be adhered to.

“We have been working on this together for many years and to have these intrusive and insensitive changes refused was worth standing up and being counted. We are only ordinary people who are passionate about where we live and preserving its unique qualities.”

The ‘flipping’ plan was opposed by the Kylins Residents’ Association and Morpeth Town Council over fears it would lead to more traffic, a loss of privacy and safety issues for a nearby children’s play area.

And at the meeting, Coun David Woodard echoed the feelings.

“I am proposing refusal,” he said.

“This does not accord with the agreed planning brief. There will be increased highway activity on the road, which is obviously a concern in terms of safety. Given the choice of the existing, approved application and this one, this is a worse situation.”

The second application had again sparked objection, with concerns focused on the higher density of homes, parking congestion, loss of view, light and privacy and the design being out of keeping.

At the meeting, Coun Gordon Castle said: “The fact is this is a considerable change to the original brief. For me, this will change the entire character and layout. The scale of development is greatly increased from what was agreed.”

However, Coun Brian Douglas said he felt the flipping of the homes would improve the site,

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the design brief was a guideline, not set in stone, and he had “no qualms” with the second application.

He added: “We have got to move with the times.”

Coun Trevor Thorne said the application to flip the plots would enhance the scheme, but criticised the scale of the development in the second application, which he said would create a “wall of houses”.

Persimmon Homes Project Director Peter Jordan said flipping the plots was not contrary to the brief and would be a better scheme.

He also defended the second application on a number of grounds, saying: “I would urge you to allow this development to continue and for us to invest in Morpeth.”

And a planning officer told members that the road width was more than adequate for a development of this size, while a footpath would be installed which would enhance safety.