A controversial development scheme on the edge of Morpeth will definitely go ahead after an application for the Government to examine the application was turned down.
Mitford Estate’s amended outline bid for a greenfield site to the north and west of Lancaster Park, which includes a mix of housing and units for employment, was approved by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee in September.
Following the decision, a call-in application was made to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
But those against the scheme, including members of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan steering group, received the news they did not want to hear this week as he has decided not to call in the application.
The letter explaining why includes the following: ‘The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against the call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on October 26, 2012.
‘The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively and it gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion, that the application should be called in.
‘The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.’
Mitford Estate changed its proposal to bring down the number of homes to 150 and the employment offer – the main feature of which is a 2,100 sq ft ‘innovation centre’ – was increased following the county council’s decision to allocate the site as designated employment land in its major modifications to the core strategy.
Also included in the plans are a 60-bed hotel, roadside services, a pub/restaurant, additional landscaping and parkland.
Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan steering group chairman, Joan Tebbutt, said: “The refusal to call in the second Mitford Estate application, so that it could be considered at a public inquiry, is devastating in terms of the Neighbourhood Plan being overridden after all the hard work and public support.
“It has caused people to wonder whether it was all worth it. However, if we give up then we allow those who only care about Morpeth for financial gain to feel they can continue to do so.
“We must continue to fight inappropriate development together.”