The leader and chief executive of Northumberland County Council have declined an invitation to set out the authority’s vision for Morpeth at a public meeting.
An open letter was sent to them by Morpeth Mayor Andrew Tebbutt on behalf of Morpeth Town Council and Jacky Beesley, chairman of the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade.
The Morpeth organisations proposed to arrange a meeting so county council leader Grant Davey and chief executive Steven Mason could address residents.
The letter says that the vision for potential developments on the county council’s sites in the town is ‘of crucial importance’.
It also includes the following: ‘Selling off county assets in our town is a one-off opportunity to ensure that the needs and aspirations of Morpeth’s growing community are met.
‘The opportunities for far sighted developers could be exciting.
‘Sadly however, the development briefs issued for the County Hall and Riverside sites are lacking in both inspiration and relevant detail, with no vision for Morpeth being in evidence.’
In a statement after reading the letter, Coun Davey said: “Investing in and regenerating towns like Morpeth, which have a rich heritage, is key to regenerating the county.
“While detailed design plans are still in development, we don’t feel it would be constructive at this stage to discuss them in a public meeting.
“As we have always stressed, putting the Riverside and County Hall sites on the market simply allows us to establish the value of these important assets and see how much interest there may be from prospective purchasers.
“Part of this process is the preparation of development briefs for the sites involved, which are used to provide prospective purchasers with an indication of acceptable future uses of land and buildings and identify any significant constraints that would need to be considered as part of future re-development proposals.
“They are intended only to inform the marketing exercise, by their very nature they are not detailed and all subsequent development proposals would be subject to the normal planning application process.”