Housing bid for hospital site is finally submitted

Housing plans have finally been submitted to develop the former St George’s Hospital site.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Linden Homes have jointly submitted a planning application for the plot on the edge of Morpeth town centre.

The bid is made up of a proposal for full planning permission for 119 homes, access, landscaping, open space and parking.

And there are plans for outline permission for a further 256 dwellings, including changing an administration block to residential, assembly and leisure use, as phases B and C.

The application has long been expected and last month Morpeth Town Council agreed to request the transfer of land from Tommy’s Field allotments to make way for a roundabout to the site.

In return, a bigger plot for allotments would be provided next to East Riding residential home.

Unlike recent applications by Bellway and Barratt David Wilson Homes to build to the south of Morpeth, using the St George’s site for housing has found public support in the process to form a Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan.

A public consultation event organised by the applicants found 77 per cent of respondents in favour of developing the plot.

Plan Steering Group Chairman Joan Tebbutt said: “This is an area identified for housing –the St George’s application is the one we have been waiting for.

“We will have to look at it to see if this particular application is appropriate, but it is an appropriate place and an area we want to be developed so I hope this turns out to be a good application.

“We know that developers such as Bellway and Barratt have been saying this site hasn’t come forward. They won’t be able to say that any more. Hopefully, if an appropriate application is approved, we will be able to stop the development of inappropriate sites and take control. This is the strategy going forward.”

The former hospital closed in 1995 and Linden parent company Galliford Try Partnerships was selected as the preferred site developer by the HCA in 2012.

The proposed housing site would cover more than 18 hectares, with access off Dark Lane. Properties would range from one and two-bed apartments to two to five–bedroom houses.

A spokesman for Linden Homes said: “The proposal aims to deliver quality, family housing, with a high level of specification. The properties, that range from single-bedroomed apartments to five-bedroomed executive homes, will be individually designed to integrate with the surrounding area, while enhancing natural features, including the adjacent Bluebell and Howburn Woods.

“It would also provide significant public open space and restore access to an area that is currently closed to the public.

“Linden Homes’ track-record of bespoke, sympathetic design was a key factor in it being selected by the HCA and the company will be employing leading architectural design consultants to develop properties that are unique to this site.

“We are delighted to be involved in such an exceptional development that respects both the heritage and surroundings of St George’s.”

The application is set to be discussed by Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee on Wednesday. Northumberland County Council will determine the bid at a later date.