Overhaul of key Morpeth site lodged with council

The former Morpeth Police Station site.
The former Morpeth Police Station site.

A bid to bring a key Morpeth site back into use as housing, which was unveiled earlier this year, has been submitted to the county council.

The scheme, by Enviro Property Partners Ltd, is to convert the former police station site, on Castle Square, into houses and flats.

The four-storey building at the front of the site is of stone construction and it includes the old custody suite and cells.

Behind it are a number of garages and storerooms and the garages provide a link to a two-storey stone building at the rear of the site.

The development would feature the refurbishment and change of use of the former police building, garages and stables into six houses as well as the demolition of workshops, the rear police building and former police houses for the construction of seven new houses and 19 apartments.

According to a planning statement submitted as part of the application, ‘the proposal offers a wide range of dwelling types, varying in size from a 50 sqm one-bedroom apartment to a 290 sqm four-bedroom townhouse.

‘The massing and form of the main station shall remain unaltered.

‘Proposed development blocks vary from one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half storeys. The size and mass of each block has been carefully considered.’

Northumbria Police put the site up for sale in order to save costs, although this also enabled the force to move officers and staff to a more accessible location in the town (Austin House in Sanderson Arcade).

In April this year, we reported that development of the site had moved a step closer after it was bought by a consortium, consisting of Ken and Bryan Beattie, Morpeth businessmen Ian Rutherford and Dave Pollard, and Dave Aynsley, from Embleton.

At the time, Ken Beattie, who is chairman of Morpeth Town FC, said: “We’re excited about this project as we want it to be a centrepiece for Morpeth.”

The plans were unveiled at a public consultation that month and feedback forms were made available to those in attendance.

A total of 41 consultation responses were received, of which 72 per cent were supportive of the principle of development at the site, while 70 per cent agreed that the scale and appearance of the proposed development was appropriate.

The planning statememt, which also reveals that no affordable housing is being offered as part of the development, based on a viability assessment, concludes: ‘The scheme will deliver economic, social and environmental benefits and will encourage the effective reuse of a brownfield site and deliver a high-quality housing development within a sustainable location.

‘The scheme will enhance the character and appearance of the Morpeth Conservation Area and the setting of the grade II*-listed Morpeth Court building.’

As referred to here, the old police station is not just a key site in its own right, but it is also adjacent to Morpeth Court and the new application says that efforts have been made to ensure ‘the new dwellings are sympathetic to the significance of both the police station and Morpeth Court buildings and their settings’.

But the link between the two has already led to a step forward as efforts by the owners and residents of Morpeth Court, together with the police-station consortium meant that work was carried out so that the eyesore wooden hoardings in front of the building were finally removed earlier this year.