Future vision receives a plethora of responses

Coun Nic Best, Mayor of Morpeth, launched the consultation for the draft Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan in January.
Coun Nic Best, Mayor of Morpeth, launched the consultation for the draft Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan in January.

The team working on the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan has started the next stage in the process after receiving hundreds of comments during a recent consultation.

The steering group is now aiming to prepare the amended document quickly without compromising accuracy, so that it can be submitted to Northumberland County Council as soon as possible.

Nearly 600 people in Morpeth and the surrounding parishes of Hebron, Hepscott, Mitford and Pegswood responded to the policies and actions outlined in the draft plan – this included over 450 text comments plus a score of detailed submissions that came through separately.

There is likely to be more to come as a recent ‘World Cafe’ facilitated discussion led by the School Council at King Edward VI School should boost the input from young people.

Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group, Coun Joan Tebbutt, said initial indications from the consultation responses suggest that the settlement boundary policies will be tightened up, the focus and consistency of the housing provision policy will be improved and the number of local green space designations will be increased and the protected open space policy made more specific.

She added: “The aspiration towards a southern four-way junction onto the A1 is likely be substantially reduced or removed from the Plan because this is a matter for the Highways Agency, not a Neighbourhood Plan, and the site in Clifton is in the Stannington parish, which is outside the Plan area.”

The document covers a 15-year period. It will be restructured so that it has separate sections covering the planning policies, which will have statutory weight, and community actions.

It will need to go through an independent examination and a referendum involving all electors in the Plan area before it can be adopted.

Coun Nic Best, vice chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said: “The Plan is constrained by national planning guidance which requires ‘ambitious and realistic growth’ and past planning decisions cannot be reversed.

“So I hope, when it comes to the referendum, people will vote ‘yes’ because the difference between ‘no I don’t want it’ and ‘no it’s not good enough’ won’t register.”