Concerns over access, but scheme is needed

The Old Vicarage in Wooler.
The Old Vicarage in Wooler.

Parish councillors in Wooler had some highways concerns, but highlighted the need for elderly provision as they discussed a new development.

In the end, having talked through a number of issues, they decided to respond to Northumberland County Council, raising concerns about the access and highways safety in relation to the proposals for the Old Vicarage.

Plus, in response to the fears of residents of neighbouring Fenton Grange, many of whom were at Monday night’s meeting of the parish council, members are to request that the decision is made by one of the county council’s planning committees.

As reported earlier this month, the plan involves an expansion of the Old Vicarage care home and the construction of seven new homes for older people within its extensive grounds.

It is planned to add six bedrooms, lift and laundry facilities to the grade II-listed care home, which already has 17 bedrooms.

The seven detached one-and-a-half-storey dwellings would be designed for independent living and restricted to over 55s.

Parish councillors were not happy that the proposed access into the site is only single-lane, while the visibility splays – how well drivers can see from the junction – also caused concerns, particularly as the site is located on the A697 on the northern edge of the village.

Coun Brian Patterson said: “It was originally a single dwelling house and now it’s a commercial enterprise, for want of a better word.”

Addressing some of the objectors at the meeting, Coun Alfreda Hindmarsh pointed out that Wooler is in desperate need of accommodation for its ageing population.

Coun Mark Mather added: “I feel a little bit disheartened by this because I feel that whatever the Old Vicarage puts forward, you would object.”

After the meeting, resident Ross Peart, who lives in one of the bungalows closest to the site, said: “It’s the extension to the main house which is the main bugbear to us. It will totally dwarf our bungalows.

“The rest of the plans are good for Wooler, but the extension is on the east side and if it was on the north, it would make everything so much better. This one tweak could make the residents much more favourable.”