Plans for a new development in Belsay, featuring nine homes, were given the go-ahead last week, despite opposition from locals and the parish council.
The scheme, for land south of the Old School House which belongs to the Belsay Estate, was unanimously approved by Northumberland County Council’s planning committee.
Applicants Laura and Peter De Wesselow originally sought permission for 28 dwellings and the creation of a school car park on the site, which lies to the east of side of the A696 and to the north of Belsay First School.
But the proposals were amended to reduce the number of properties to nine after discussion with planning officers and the scheme is set to feature one detached house, two semi-detached homes and two terraces featuring three dwellings each.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, Belsay resident Michael Murden highlighted that the site is in the proposed green belt in the county council’s emerging core strategy.
In her report, the planning officer, Katherine Robbie, said that as the local plan ‘remains unadopted and has not yet been subject to public examination, limited weight can be given to its green-belt status’.
Nonetheless, she went on to say that the site is a limited in-fill development in a village, which is one of the exceptions in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which would allow development in the green belt.
The council’s head of planning services, Mark Ketley, pointed out that the authority has ‘had its fingers stung’ at appeal in applying green-belt policy from the emerging core strategy too readily. In the case of a scheme in Longhorsley, the council did win the overall appeal, but had to pay a five-figure sum in costs for being premature on that issue.
Mr Murden also raised concerns about highways safety, saying any additional traffic was an accident waiting to happen. “We are not against sensible development within the village, but this is inappropriate” he added.
However, agent James Ellis highlighted how the scheme would help to support the sustainability of a small village and its school.