Northumberland County Council currently plans to build a new leisure centre on the site of the old Morpeth library. As with County Hall, refurbishment of the existing leisure centre is not considered adequate, we need a shiny new one.
At the public consultation in March, it was acknowledged that this would require the felling of most, if not all, the riverside trees bordering the site, as well as those between the site and The Terrace car park.
This would surely be an act of environmental vandalism.
The area is one of the few remaining ‘green islands’ in the town and in order to preserve it, any development of the Willows site should not greatly exceed the footprint of the existing buildings.
The proposed leisure centre is a huge building, which would dominate the skyline as viewed from either side of the river.
The idea that a building of this size, whatever its architectural design, would “complement the conservation area and surrounding historic buildings” seems fanciful.
The present location of the leisure centre, adjacent to ample parking and the other leisure facilities provided in the park, is ideal and convenient.
If a new centre really is needed, rather than the much less costly refurbishment of the existing, it should be rebuilt on the existing site.
Those of us who enjoy these trees can only hope that the recent change in the balance of power at Northumberland County Council will lead to a more sympathetic development proposal for The Willows.
Derek Challoner, Clare Hopkins, Kay and Stewart Barnett