Planners’ guidance on development potential

Council planning officers steered consultants towards housing development as a potential use for the County Hall site, it has emerged.

At a scrutiny meeting last month Northumberland County Council Head of Strategic Estates Paul Leo said that reports for future uses of the site focused on housing as it would deliver the best land value, but no decision had been made.

However, at the Policy Board meeting on Tuesday, GVA Senior Director Michael Cuthbertson said the consultants had used housing development to give the values after discussions with planners.

“Residential development of the County Hall was something we were asked to look at particularly as we spoke to the planners and that was the way they steered us,” he said.

“We relied on Northumberland County Council’s own planners.”

Council Leader Grant Davey said: “At this stage we have assumed it will be residential use to create best value, but there is potential for mixed use, and the suggestion of a hotel might be one of the ways forward.”