Rothbury Parish Council: Housing plans face a challenge

McInerney Homes Whitton View pic from web.
McInerney Homes Whitton View pic from web.
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The standard of affordable homes the Duke of Northumberland wants to build at Rothbury is to be challenged at the county planning committee.

Parish and county councillor Steven Bridgett – who last month described them as slums and declared he ‘would not let rats live there’ – said that despite assurances from Northumberland Estates, he still had concerns.

“I completely agree that Rothbury needs affordable housing, but how much are we prepared to sacrifice to get it?”

The homes would be encased in trees, and Coun Bridgett said: “My own view is that what they are proposing is that occupants of those affordable properties will have a very poor quality of natural light. They will be sectioned off in a cul-de-sac away from the rest of the estate. I’m not prepared to accept them.”

Parish council representatives have met estates staff twice in the past month to discuss Whitton View’s second phase.

Staff said the developer had not been chosen and it was hoped to avoid the problems of having three builders, as in phase one.

Houses would be built as they sold, but it was hoped to take only two years to complete the estate – half as long as the first phase.

Valley the next wind stop?

The prospect of industrial wind turbines in the Coquet Valley has been raised by a proposed met mast, parish councillors have heard.

They were considering a letter from the Northumberland and Newcastle Society voicing deep concern about the proliferation of windfarms in the county and calling for robust planning policies.

Coun Steven Bridgett said that until now the ‘Coquet corridor’ had avoided large wind energy developments, but at Sharperton there was an application for a 50metre windtest mast. This could lead to turbines of up to 125m.

“That would set a precedent for the whole valley,” he said.

The society has commissioned expert reports in response to Northumberland County Council’s Core Strategy Issues and Options consultation with a view to influencing the way planning applications are handled. The society believes there should be a fixed separation distance from houses and rights of way.

Welcome revamp for parish bridge

Villagers welcome the new-look Dunkirk Bridge, transformed from bottleneck to a normal road, councillors said. But some regretted that the stone parapets had been replaced with a wooden fence, Coun Alan Fendley said. Coun Steven Bridgett said the stone was expensive to repair when hit by cars.

Royal windfall for woodland

Rothbury has had a right royal windfall that will benefit villagers, tourists and wildlife for generations. The parish council applied for 210 trees from the Woodland Trust to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and to be planted at Beggars Rigg.

The delivery has already arrived and it is twice the size expected.

Time to pass on responsibility

The parish church clock, which as Rothbury’s civic timepiece has cost the parish council several thousand pounds in repairs over a couple of years, is to be placed in the care of the church. Before responsibility is handed over, the parish council will spend £560 to restore the quarter chimes.

Questions over doubling of cost

Councillors are questioning why the estimated cost of rebuilding Rothbury First School’s kitchen and dining room has doubled. The county has offered £500,000 for refurbishment and says rebuilding would cost £1m. Initially the estimates had been £300,000 to refurbish and £500,000 to rebuild.