PLAN: Democracy must win out

As last week’s Herald article made clear, there was both frustration and anger after the cabinet meeting of Northumberland County Council on April 12, when it was decided to defer a decision on the making of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan.

The hard work and dedication of those who have spent years on its production was threatened by a last minute submission of papers by Mitford Estates, challenging the legal status of the process by which it had been produced.

The cabinet of the county council, perhaps understandably, argued that it needed to take legal advice on the matter.

There are no precedents up and down the country for a legal challenge to be made at such a late stage — post-referendum.

So what could be at stake here?

Could one be forgiven for suspecting that delaying tactics in the making of the Plan, or even thwarting it altogether if a judicial review in the High Court is deemed necessary, could ease the way for further development in our already besieged town?

Mitford Estates already has a second submission of proposals for development of land to the west of Lancaster Park lodged with the county council.

This differs from its first submission in no material way.

The determination date has yet to be announced, but in the worst case scenario, this could take place before the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan is finally made.

To add to any confusion, Mitford Estates has also recently lodged an appeal against the refusal of its first submission.

It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan is made as soon as possible.

The people of this town voted overwhelmingly in favour of it.

To stand by and allow one developer to deny the democratic will of a community is untenable.

To those who voted, continue to speak out, pass the word around, and make your presence felt at the next Northumberland County Council cabinet meeting, which is open to the public.

The provisional date is May 10, at 10.30am, at County Hall.

Penny Oxley

Pinewood Drive