Housing scheme is rejected by council

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

Plans for 53 homes at a site near Morpeth town centre have been refused by Northu-mberland County councillors.

A majority of the local authority’s Castle Morpeth Local Area Council voted against the bid from Persimmon’s Charles Church brand to build residential properties on greenfield land north of The Garth at Pottery Bank.

The application site is the southern extent of land known as Peacock Gap and lies directly south of a site that has planning permission, following a successful appeal, for 39 residential dwellings by Story Homes.

The development includes two SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) drainage basins and landscaping to site boundaries.

The existing homes at Pottery Bank Court are located to the south of the Charles Church land and one of its residents, Maureen Davison, spoke on behalf of objectors from Pottery Bank Court.

She said: “We have grave concerns about a SUDS pond so close to our homes, with potential overflow problems and raised ground water levels on shifting sand geology, especially its effect on retaining walling to our court.

“This is not some far flung field, it is set within the beating heart of Morpeth – worthy of better treatment than this blanket saturation affords and it should not be treated as mere urban infill.

“This development would triple housing in an area of characterful and very individual homes. Our court won a design award and was subject to strict heritage consideration under Castle Morpeth Borough Council.”

There were a total of 90 objections.

When its bid was submitted in early 2017, Charles Church proposed to put in place a roundabout junction for accessing the development. However, this was changed to a traffic-lights arrangement later in the year as it believed this was the most suitable way to manage the traffic flow.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt, speaking on behalf of Morpeth Town Council, said: “Traffic lights are anathema to the vast majority of people in Morpeth. We know from experience that the installation of traffic lights doesn’t improve traffic flow, it actually frustrates it.

“This application does not fit the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (MNP).

“This site has always had outstanding environmental quality, although sadly, since being identified by a developer, it looks very neglected. But its environmental qualities can be restored, if you say no.”

Sam Kenny, representing Persimmon, said the land is not designated for any purpose and there would be ‘significant and sensitive buffers’ between the site nearby properties.

He added that all technical issues have been met and referred to the report by planning officers, which recommended approval.

But Coun Glen Sanderson said it was important for applications such as this to include information about its wider impact on traffic flows in Morpeth, which was lacking in this case.

Coun David Bawn proposed that the bid should be refused for that reason, as well as the site not being allocated for housing in the MNP, the negative impact on flood risk and the impact on residential amenity given the scale of the housing combined with the site being higher than Pottery Bank.

The vote was six councillors in favour of his proposal and three against.