Housing refused as officer ignores vital concerns

A 3D view of the proposed housing scheme.
A 3D view of the proposed housing scheme.

A planning officer has been slammed for going against the advice of his council’s conservation officer as an application to build eight new homes in Lesbury was refused.

Northumberland Estates wanted to erect the properties on land between Down House and Old School House on Riverside.

The county council’s planning team had recommended the plans be approved.

But this was in contradiction to the authority’s own conservation team which said the plans would ‘fail to preserve or enhance the conservation area and therefore should be refused’.

The report added ‘the proposal is completely unacceptable, in removing the last vestiges of a historic layout that is part of the medieval history of Lesbury’.

Coun Gordon Castle said: “There is a major divergence of opinion between the conservation officer and the planning officer. There are two major aspects that I think go against the application – the access road and the conservation officer’s report and I cannot support it.”

Speaking after the planning meeting Coun Castle added: “I am extremely disappointed that the planning department seems to be unable to speak with one voice on this application.”

A letter of objection added ‘removing the gardens would destroy the richness and diversity of character and rural tranquility’.

Coun Heather Cairns added: “To destroy this plot for three or four affordable homes when there is other available land is not good enough.”

A spokesman for the Estates said: “We are obviously disappointed by the planning committee’s decision and will take the time to consider their comments in more detail.

“However, we still believe that our proposal can deliver many benefits to the village of Lesbury and we intend to work closely with planning officers on this project over the coming months.”