Revised scheme gets go-ahead this time

The entrance to the site off Cottingwood Lane.
The entrance to the site off Cottingwood Lane.

A town-centre scheme of flats and bungalows at a former county-council premises in Morpeth has been approved at the second time of asking.

A revised bid to convert into 13 apartments the grade II-listed 94 Newgate Street, which is accessed by vehicles from Cottingwood Lane, was approved at Monday night’s meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council.

The scheme will also see four detached bungalows, two of which would be dormer bungalows, built elsewhere on the site and it was this element that caused most problems for objectors.

Orchard Mews resident Colin Wardle said that there were still three ‘fundamental’ issues – the impact on the conservation area, the loss of three large trees from the site and the loss of amenity and privacy for the properties on Orchard Mews.

Fellow objector Stanley Tindale said his only issue was the two buildings being built directly behind Kirkville, a grade II-listed former Presbyterian chapel.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt added: “Morpeth Town Council continues to argue that the proposed rear development is overmassing, intrusive to several neighbouring properties and will result in the loss of several trees.”

But Gary Herron, director of developers Northumberland Ltd, highlighted that they had amended the scheme six times to try to ease concerns, adding: “The costs (related to converting a listed building) can only be counterbalanced by new-build elements in our scheme.”

He emphasised that there would be ‘zero overlooking and zero overshadowing’ on the properties at Orchard Mews.

Committee member, Coun John Beynon said: “I think we all have sympathy with the developers because we agree with what they are trying to do with the main building, but I do agree with the objectors.

“On that site, you couldn’t have picked two worse positions to put four bungalows.”

The first application was narrowly refused in January, against officer advice, and an appeal has been submitted against this refusal.

Planning officers had again recommended approval of this amended scheme and members passed it by seven votes to two.

A legal agreement will be signed to secure almost £10,000 for off-site affordable housing as well as a financial contribution for education.

The approved proposals had attracted 12 objections from residents, as well as one from Morpeth Town Council, as well as 28 letters of support from people elsewhere in Morpeth and surrounding villages.

When it came to the vote in January, three councillors were in favour, four were against it and there were three abstentions.