DEVELOPMENT: The ‘gem’ will be marooned

Paul Christensen’s prophetic letter in last week’s Morpeth Herald was a compelling account of the grim consequences for Morpeth should the proposed Persimmon development at Peacock Gap be allowed to proceed.

His masterly analysis should be required reading for Northumberland County Council. It echoed his warning in your newspaper last August in the wake of the council’s consent to 255 homes at Fairmoor.

There he made alarmingly clear the potential impact of such enormous volumes of water and treated sewage going into the Cotting Burn from so large a site, together with the neighbouring site at Northgate, now proceeding apace.

Now, a year later, it seems that the current proposal for Peacock Gap is as vague and unsatisfactory as on that earlier occasion on the crucial matter of the drainage system envisaged for this development.

What is certainly not vague, but all too horrifyingly apparent and precise, is that Morpeth’s sewage system is already at capacity. With every new house built the burden on that system becomes ever more ominous. It doesn’t require too great an effort of the imagination to foresee what is likely to lie ahead.

Over the past months, the Herald has carried letters containing some of the most powerful, persuasively argued and moving expressions of concern for the future of Morpeth and its environs that one could hope to find anywhere.

Among them, these letters have given voice to profound feelings about what the writers love and treasure about this place. They have also expressed mounting anxiety and growing anger, which I know to be shared by many people who fear and deplore the destruction and loss of what must always be immeasurably more important and intrinsically valuable than anything motivated by commercial profit.

No one can reasonably object to controlled development, or to the provision of new homes where they are needed in sustainable numbers. What must surely be called into question is unfettered development that threatens the whole character and wellbeing of the area.

This ancient market town, dwelling among woods and streams, has survived the centuries within its green approaches and the gentle contours of its setting. There is beauty and timelessness. It has an organic rightness of place and atmosphere.

Now already, and with apparently no thought having been given to what is about to be lost forever, the forces of destruction are under way. Already the contours begin to vanish, the trees are stripped away, the wildlife is expelled, the birds fall silent. The soulless urban sprawl has begun.

Morpeth, described in a letter by Irene Jones, as “a gem” can now expect to be marooned as the developers and their concrete advance.

The strength of feeling demonstrated by so many who are watching this with dismay must surely be seen as significant by the planners and councillors of Northumberland County Council.

It would be encouraging to think that they may feel obliged not to ignore it.

Emma Mary Brewis,