Housing bid on edge of village approved

Land next to the equestrian centre in Swarland.
Land next to the equestrian centre in Swarland.

A scheme for more housing in Swarland has been given the green light, despite concerns raised by residents and the parish council.

An application to demolish the indoor riding arena at Swarland Equestrian Centre and build 15 houses in its place had been recommended for approval at Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the planning committee.

And members followed the advice of the officers – and the fact that there were no objections from statutory consultees – to approve the bid unanimously.

A section 106 agreement will ensure that four of the houses area affordable.

The meeting had heard a series of objections raised by the parish council and an impassioned speech by resident Ken Walters, who questioned whether the infrastructure of Swarland can take any more development.

Citing the closure of the village shop and the lack of regular bus services, he said: “I’m at a loss as to how the report (of the planning officer) concludes that Swarland is a sustainable village.

“Swarland has been subject to development by creep, pushing the boundaries of the village into agricultural land.

“We have got the development, but we haven’t got the infrastructure to back it up.”

Jan Anderson, clerk for Newton on the Moor and Swarland Parish Council, read out a statement on behalf of the council, which listed numerous concerns, including the site being outside the village boundary, the development setting a precedent, the fact the site is not brownfield, drainage worries and the access road not being suitable.

David Dobson, the agent for the developer, highlighted the proposed use of Northumberland stone and slate for the houses, adding: “This scheme is within a beautiful setting and I hope it will be an example to other developers to (do the same).”

The applicant, David Blackshaw, explained that he lives on the site and will oversee the development, which he wanted to be in keeping with the area.

“I love the village and I fully intend to stay,” he added.

Moving approval, Coun Heather Cairns said: “It’s hard to say it’s a sustainable village; you have got to get in your car to go shopping and to go to work, but this is really exemplary design.”