People power won the day last week as councillors sided with residents who had objected to a major scheme for new homes in Shilbottle.
Planners had recommended giving the nod to the controversial proposals by Northumberland Estates for 47 new homes, a doctors’ surgery and start-up business units at land south of Grange Road in Shilbottle.
The application had already sparked 29 objections and two petitions – one of 133 names and another with 250 names, collected by the parish council, which strongly opposes the scheme – while another 14 objections had been received by the time of last Thursday’s north area planning committee.
Addressing the meeting, residents of the village, which has seen large developments at Farriers Rise and Tyelaw Meadows in recent years, focused heavily on the issues of flooding, foul water and sewerage from which Shilbottle already suffers.
Despite the assurances offered by officers from the county council and the testimony of a drainage expert, members failed to see why work to improve the sewerage and water system at the site could not be dealt with prior to any development going ahead.
Planning officers explained that while any approval would have a condition, which would mean that the county council would have to approve a ‘detailed scheme for the treatment of the foul flows’, work would involve Northumbrian Water and the planning authority could not dictate to the water board.
Therefore, members would have to accept that the necessary safeguards would be put in place.
Local member Coun Trevor Thorne pointed out that there was a strength of feeling in the village from a ‘broad spectrum’ of people against the scheme.
“I’m not a drainage technician, but I’m the guy on the ground when people phone me up and say raw sewage is coming down the street,” he said.
“This is not every now and then, but on regular occasions that are well-documented by the parish council.
“It’s an old, archaic sewerage system and I don’t believe this development should go ahead until we have a new sewerage system. It’s not fair on the people of Shilbottle.”
Coun Dougie Watkin said: “What we desperately need is more housing and to drive down the cost of housing, but we cannot agree to conditions that we don’t know what they are going to be before they are agreed.
“We are living in the 21st century and we cannot accept schemes with a set-up that would not be acceptable in the 19th century.”
Members voted unanimously to reject the scheme.