Concerns about unresolved flooding issues led councillors to delay a decision on plans to build houses on the site of a Northumberland sawmill.
Applicant Stan Dawson is seeking outline permission for up to nine homes on around one-third of the Kirkley Sawmill plot, which lies to the west of Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus, as he is retiring and intends to close the business.
Planning officers had recommended approval, subject to outstanding matters relating to surface water being resolved, but members of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council decided they would rather defer the decision to make sure these issues are fully thrashed out first.
A six-week deferral, with a site visit to be carried out before the application is brought back to committee, was unanimously approved at the meeting on Monday (February 11).
James Hitching, from the council’s flooding team, said that they weren’t objecting and believed a scheme could be delivered, but didn’t yet have enough information to give suitably-worded conditions.
However, he added that the intention was that the development would result in a better situation than exists currently in terms of flooding, with the Cadger Burn running alongside the site.
Earlier, the meeting heard concerns from neighbours Christine and Glenn Brownlee, with the latter saying: “The new development will not flood, so we are going to bear the brunt of it.”
Mrs Brownlee also raised road-safety fears, adding: “The infrastructure struggles as it is.”
They were backed by Coun Christine Caisley, from Ponteland Town Council, who suggested members took a site visit.
However, the applicant’s agent, Chris Megson, from ELG Planning, said that they had ‘worked closely with officers to develop a quality scheme’ which ‘fully addresses the opportunities and constraints presented’.
He added that the housing proposals, if approved, would represent ‘a far more sensitive and appropriate use in the green belt’.
Planning officer Geoff Horsman said that questions around the sustainability of the location had to be balanced against its status as a brownfield site coupled with the fact that the site benefits from planning permission for unrestricted industrial use with no planning conditions limiting hours of operation, for example.
Nonetheless, councillors wanted to take a look themselves as well as receive confirmation that the flooding issues had been addressed before giving the go-ahead.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service