Updates for schemes at Morpeth event

Hundreds of residents went along to Morpeth Town Hall last Thursday to see and hear about updates for various developments and projects.

Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 12:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 2:41 pm
The session was held in Morpeth Town Hall. Picture by Jack Gebhard.

The latest Morpeth Forum drop-in session included information on Northumberland County Council’s proposed schemes, principally its plans for a new leisure centre at The Terrace site.

Under the current programme, a planning application is due to be submitted next month.

As well as sports and leisure facilities, the library and customer services would be re-located to the new building, along with adult learning currently in place at the King Edward VI School site.

The benefits of the proposed scheme on the council’s boards at the event included ‘enhanced facilities for informal physical activity and formal sport’, ‘improved local environment due to high-quality design and architecture’ and ‘a new building, constructed with modern materials, will be easier to maintain effectively and economically’.

Concerns were raised to the Herald and officials at the Town Hall about the size of the planned building, 10.5m to 11m, and the fact that no additional car parking is being proposed.

Project manager Liam Hudspith said the building would need to be lifted and work carried out to fill the void underneath to factor in the flood risk of the site and this is being worked on with the Environment Agency.

Designs for the proposed ‘front-of-house’ work at County Hall were also on display.

Coun Richard Wearmouth, county council cabinet member for economic development, said: “The Morpeth Forum team was delighted that more people than ever before attended our drop-in session.

“Parking for the new leisure centre was a point people asked about. The new centre and changes to St George’s car park result in the net loss of one space.

“However, the changes should be seen in the context of the creation of 150-plus additional spaces at Goosehill, which will become a long stay car park, with St George’s becoming more dedicated to the leisure centre and more short/medium stay focused.”

Those who went along were also able to find out more about the progress of some big projects in the town led by private sector companies.

The drop-in session included a stand by Crafted Projects in relation to works to transform the Queen’s Head on Bridge Street into a bar, restaurant, tearoom and boutique hotel.

Phase one consists of the Pleased to Meet You bar and restaurant and Emily’s Tearoom named after Emily Wilding Davison.

Under the current timetable, this is scheduled to open at Easter 2020.

Work is also on-going on phase two – a hotel with 22 rooms and a function room with the original ballroom floor above the ground floor – and this will be ready at a later date.

Roseville Asset Management Limited is planning to construct a new luxury development of apartments for people aged 55 and over and David Nicholson, one of the directors, said it is seeking to submit a full planning application in the near future. Residents were invited to have their say on the current proposal.

Mr Nicholson is also a director of Zonic Investments Limited, which is the developer for a new fine dining restaurant in the converted Elm House building on Dacre Street.

He said the building work is now complete and he is speaking with potential operators that have expressed an interest.

In addition, The Old Registry apartments and bungalows scheme off Newgate Street is set to be completed at the end of November or the beginning of December.

The Morpeth Antiquarian Society and Friends of Morpeth Museum had a joint stand at the event to highlight their campaign for a museum in the town.

Those who came along had the option of responding to its questionnaire.

Plans for the re-development of the Northgate Hospital site were also on display at the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust stand.

A section of buildings currently vacant would be demolished and new wards and a replacement Medium Secure Unit would be built.

There will be another opportunity for residents to see the plans for the major Northumberland County Council project.

A standalone event for the new leisure centre proposal will be held at Morpeth Town Hall on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.