Residents ready for new housing battle

A GROUP of Morpeth residents are once again having to fight plans for new housing on a greenfield site.

County council planning officers are recommending that the application by Bellway for 186 residential properties in South Loansdean should be approved by the north area planning committee at a meeting tonight.

This is a slightly different bid to the one for 200 homes rejected by the committee in February last year – made up of different councillors to today following the elections in May.

An appeal was rejected in August 2012 after an inquiry at Morpeth Town Hall. The South Morpeth Coalition successfully defended the planning decision on its own as the council committee agreed to pull out of the process.

Now its members will argue the case against the most recent proposal, which also includes landscaping, access and highways works as well as outline plans for up to 465 sq m of commercial development in a section of the site.

The officer report concludes: ‘The scheme would deliver much-needed housing, both market and affordable, in Morpeth at a time when it is seeking to establish its role and function as a main settlement and service centre for Northumberland and a key location for growth.

‘It would represent a sustainable urban extension to the southern part of Morpeth, be of a scale that would not prejudice any future development strategy for the settlement and not raise issues of prematurity in relation to the emerging county-wide core strategy or neighbourhood development plan.’

South Morpeth Coalition Chairman David Holden said members were not surprised that officers believe the scheme should get the green light.

“We were able to fight the appeal without the council’s support and we hope that the north area planning committee members will be brave and refuse this proposal,” he said.

“New homes should be built in the northern area of the town because that is where essential facilities such as schools and doctors are located and the application is premature because the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan is still in development.”

The meeting is being held in County Hall from 6pm.