Sex pest concerns not issue for plans

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Villagers who believe paedophiles might buy new flats overlooking a school have been told their concern is not a planning issue.

Several of the 17 objectors to the eight flats at Widdrington expressed anxiety about people who would be attracted by the development.

Grange View First School’s chair of governors Janet Bewick opposed the application at the county’s north area planning committee at Alnwick.

She said she was speaking out ‘because of the duty of care that we owe to the children in the school’. It would also add to parking problems.

“We really feel it would constitute a danger to the children, should certain people try to buy those properties,” she said. “We would not like our children overlooked when they are out in the playground, either at playtime or when they are out doing PE.”

Chairman of Widdrington Station and Stobhill Parish Council, Coun Joe Sennett, said he had received many phone calls expressing grave concerns about the school being overlooked. He argued the site would be overdeveloped with two blocks of two storeys because there were bungalows all around.

Principal planning officer Vivienne Robinson said overlooking was a valid planning consideration, but the likelihood of attracting offenders against children could not be considered.

Members granted permission by five votes to four.