We’re all so flipping furious

UNPOPULAR changes to Morpeth housing plans will now go ahead after they were granted on appeal.

Developer Charles Church North East has welcomed the decisions by Planning Inspector Graham Snowdon to allow it to alter designs for The Kylins, saying the delays in getting approval have jeopardised jobs.

But residents are dismayed that years of work forming the original development brief for the site have been swept aside.

And they are furious that their concerns have been dismissed.

County councillor for the area Andrew Tebbutt said: “I’m extremely disappointed, as we all are, that the Inspector failed to take account of the development brief, which was something that was negotiated carefully between the council and the previous developer and the residents.

“We had an agreed and acceptable plan and the developer and the Inspector between them have ridden roughshod over local opinion and local determination. If that is justice, I’m sorry, it is something I find totally appalling, quite disgraceful and unacceptable.”

The application was submitted by the developer’s parent company Persimmon Homes in February to amend previously approved plans for its site in Loansdean.

It wanted to ‘flip’ some plots so that houses would face onto the main Kylins distributor road, with parking for 11 vehicles directly accessed from the road and a lay-by created for four visitor spaces.

A second proposal was to change the approved house types closest to Southfield and Sweethope Dene, making them 60cm higher, 4m nearer to properties to the north and adding an extra home, as well as making associated road, parking, landscape and boundary changes.

However, residents fiercely opposed both bids, arguing that the amendments were a major departure from the negotiated brief and would alter the character of the area.

There were fears about the impact on road safety, extra traffic, on-street parking shortages, overlooking and a loss of privacy.When the proposals went before Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee in May, they were thrown out by councillors, against officers’ recommendations.

However, Persimmon appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and on Friday residents learnt it had been successful.

Elaine Black, of The Kylins, said: “We feel totally let down. This is something we have had meetings about for years and it was good in the first stages, now it seems very spiteful to change the brief. The points we were making were to help the estate as a whole with the flow of traffic, safety and parking. These people don’t know the area because they don’t live here.”

Neighbour Maureen Waterston said: “Devastated is the word. It is a very sad end to a long, drawn-out battle. We are just really upset that our views have never been taken seriously, they seem to count for nothing.”

Maureen Howes, another resident, said: “I just don’t understand it. We worked for 12 years on that site and it just doesn’t seem right. I’m very disappointed at the outcome. We fought so hard and we were so careful about how we did things and yet nobody has listened to us. At the end of the day we have to have a community that can live together, the new people and the old people, and that is what we want, but the developers are making it so difficult for us.”

The Inspector has also rejected the county council’s calls for a condition to make the developer repair and re-surface The Kylins road before the new dwellings are occupied.

Mr Snowdon said he was not convinced that such demands were necessary or reasonable.

But Kylins Residents’ Association Secretary Joan Tebbutt is fuming at the judgment.

“The thing that annoys me the most is that the Inspector, despite the fact that we have said in all the documents that the residents paid for the road to be brought up to adoption standard, has decided that the condition the council wanted to put in for the developer to repair the road be removed,” she said..

“In other words, the taxpayer has got to pay for the road to be put back in order.

“We can’t do anything now. We can’t even have an exchange of correspondence with the Inspector. His word is final unless we take it to judicial review, but that could cost £40,000.”

Mr Snowdon said residents’ views had been taken into account, but the applications would meet Local Plan policy and would not have a detrimental effect on the living conditions of neighbours.

He said the road was wide enough to accommodate the changes, while the increase in traffic would be marginal so there would be no detriment to highway safety, and that flipping plots would create a more satisfactory and attractive approach to the site.

The Inspector accepted that some parts of the application would be in conflict with the brief, but decided that in the overall context it would not be a significant departure. He said the brief is more of a guide for the development.

He also took account of Government policy in presumption of sustainable development.

Charles Church Regional Chairman David Jenkinson said: “We can confirm that planning permission has been approved at our Morpeth development, The Kylins, and we are keen to move forward with the plans as soon as possible.

“It is very disappointing that such a straightforward application was originally refused as it was against officer recommendation. As a result of the delay, our ability to provide more employment to the local workforce has been seriously affected.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The outcome of the appeal will be reported to a forthcoming meeting of the planning committee.”