PLAN: Vote yes for democracy

Reality may be hitting home as we see acres of our lovely green fields turned to a sea of mud as building work continues around the edges of our town.

While we accept the need for housing on the old hospital sites, there has been fierce opposition at both Loansdean and Stobhill to the loss of our countryside.

In the northernmost fringes of our town the battle continues against Mitford Estates. Its first application to develop land on the western side of Lancaster Park was opposed by the town council and rejected by Northumberland County Council in November on the grounds that sufficient houses were already in the pipeline and this site lies beyond the settlement area outlined in the Neighbourhood Plan.

Some consideration of this plan (at that point very close to completion) was also invoked by the officers advising the planning committee.

Apart from some tweaking, Mitford Estates’ second application is much the same. Objections therefore remain.

Mitford Estates claims to know what is best for Morpeth, and its suggestions for employment prospects within the trunk road service area are overestimated and unverifiable. The country park and allotments are emphasised for those unfortunate enough to find themselves wedged between two major roads and cheek by jowl with this commercial area. There is surely no precedent for housing in this location.

Last week, with utter disregard for public, or indeed council opinion, Mitford Estates launched an appeal against the rejection of its first application.

This is where democracy will be put to the test. The Localism Act (2011) created the framework for setting up Neighbourhood Plans. Today in Morpeth we have a singular opportunity to vote in favour of our Plan, which has negotiated all hurdles to arrive at this referendum stage.

By voting Yes we will be in a much stronger position to fight, not just Mitford Estates, but other future proposals which do not accord with the terms of the Plan.

Let us hope that democracy is realised and that we do not allow big business and clout to hold sway by failing to exercise our right to vote.

Penny Oxley