Housing bid faces fierce opposition

NEW housing plans for Morpeth have been slammed as the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.

Persimmon Homes has lodged an outline application for land to the south of Northgate Hospital to build about 255 family homes.

The developer says the scheme would be sustainable, well located and coincide with the development of the Morpeth Northern Bypass, while jobs would be created, it would boost the regional economy and the project could unlock millions in Government funding.

Access would be from a new Northgate roundabout on the bypass and Persimmon plans to create footpath connections to Morpeth, as well as make improvements along the A192. It says the development would also enhance environmental habitats.

However, Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee, which met yesterday to discuss the scheme, blasted the application as premature and said there are several major concerns about the plans.

Coun David Parker said: “There is a quote in the documents about this being the right place at the right time. In my view this is not the right place and nor is it the right time.

“I don’t think this would in any way provide a viable community in that area, which is remote from the town itself.

“I do feel that this application needs to be strongly opposed.”

Coun Parker said the application was premature when a Neighbourhood Plan, which will enable the community to determine where development should take place, is being discussed, and also while discussions are ongoing about where a Greenbelt should be defined.

He said the area is currently designated for mixed-use employment and housing land and there is no need to allocate it purely for housing, while there are no community facilities around the site so residents would have to travel into Morpeth town centre for services.

One of the biggest concerns was the possibility of increasing flood risk downstream from the Cotting Burn, which runs through the proposed site.

Fellow committee members agreed unanimously.

Coun Nic Best said: “We should be objecting very strongly to this application.

“I think the issue of the Cotting Burn is very significant. They are talking about putting treated effluent discharge into the Cotting Burn. This to me is totally unacceptable. It is treated so it will be ok, but they would be adding the treated sewage discharge and the run-off and the two together don’t add up. It just doesn’t work.”

He added that the sewerage network is at capacity and the development would breach the settlement boundary, with potential for a cumulative impact of creating urban sprawl when other schemes are considered.

Members also expressed concern about protected species in the area and the impact on green corridors into Morpeth.

However, Persimmon Deputy Managing Director John Eynon said the development would benefit the town and a Sustainable Urban Drainage System would reduce the risk of flooding and create wetland habitat.

He said: “We believe this new development of approximately 255 family homes will bring an enormous boost to the area, not least because it will directly create 34 new jobs.

“With new families moving into the development, we have calculated that there will be an increase of £2.4million in annual retail spending in the region. A section 106 agreement will be signed between the council and Persimmon Homes, which would contribute towards local infrastructure. If the council approves the plans it could also unlock £2.2million in Government money in the New Homes Bonus, which will go towards local infrastructure and community benefits.”

He added: “This development is sustainable, well located and can provide, in conjunction with the bypass, a well-established development, which builds upon and supports the successes of Morpeth town.”

Town councillors will forward their objections to Northumberland County Council, which will determine the application. Hebron Parish Council is yet to consider the proposal.