Village housing bids both get the go-ahead

Two separate bids to extend housing estates in two villages near Morpeth were given the green light last week, despite objections from neighbours.

A scheme to build eight affordable homes in Beechlea, Stannington, and an outline application for five self-build residential units on land west of Micklewood Close, Longhirst, were both approved by Northumberland County Council’s planning and performance committee at its meeting last Tuesday afternoon.

Both schemes were recommended for approval, but in the case of the Longhirst proposal, a number of councillors were not at all happy with granting approval.

Planning officer Tony Carter explained that the site was in the green belt, in the open countryside and was outside the Longhirst settlement boundary.

However, in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), one of the exceptions for building in the green belt is for in-fill sites in villages.

Mr Carter admitted it was an on-balance decision, but his recommendation was that this did fulfil the criteria as the development would form part of the Micklewood estate and was next to the settlement of Longhirst.

But Coun Heather Cairns disagreed and recommended refusal of the scheme on the basis that it didn’t meet the exception and therefore was inappopriate development in the green belt as well as being outside the existing settlement.

Her motion was seconded by Coun Gordon Castle, but was voted down by six votes to three, before the officer’s recommendation was passed by the same margin.

Earlier in the meeting, Micklewood resident Keith Launchbury and Coun Alan Sambrook had both raised other concerns such as the narrow access road.

In the case of the eight affordable properties in Stannington – four two-storey homes and four bungalows – highways safety was also raised as an issue.

Katie Lawson, a resident of Beechlea, who spoke in opposition to the scheme, said she had concerns about construction traffic going through the cul-de-sac, particularly past the children’s play area, adding that the road surface was already in a bad state.

She also questioned the need for this development ‘on this very restricted site’, specifically with other developments in the area coming soon.

Another resident, Elizabeth Ferguson, echoed her conerns.

She said: “If you are going to have more traffic going up and down to new properties, you are going to have more accidents and make it harder for people to be comfortable in their homes and surrounds.”

Chairman of the parish council, Karen Carins, added parking issues to the list of concerns, due to the loss of a garage block.

But a representative of Isos Housing said that all the garage tenants had been allocated another garage in the area.

He also highlighted that this was a ‘high-quality affordable housing development’ to tackle local need.

The application received unanimous approval from the committee members.