Withdrawal of schemes at Morpeth’s County Hall site

County Hall in Morpeth.
County Hall in Morpeth.

Controversial schemes for a commercial development, 200 homes and a school on the County Hall site in Morpeth have been withdrawn.

In March, a majority of councillors on Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee backed the three applications in the face of strong opposition.

However, the committee was only minded to approve the applications, subject to a decision on whether the Secretary of State would call them in to make his own decision.

Later that month, it was confirmed that a holding direction had been issued ‘in order that no decisions can be issued while a full assessment for call-in is undertaken’.

The trio of developments were submitted on the basis that the county council’s headquarters were moving to Ashington, but the Conservatives, now the largest group on the authority, campaigned on stopping that move.

Last week, group leader, Coun Peter Jackson, told the Gazette: “I can confidently tell you that the move of County Hall is stopped. We have a full mandate from the electorate to stay in Morpeth and we will do that.”

On the plans for the Loansdean site, he added: “At this stage, we are not expecting the plans for the retail park and the housing elements to make much further progress, put it that way. We will have very early discussions with Goosehill School. On its current site, it’s probably not sustainable in the longer term and we’re happy to work with them to find a solution to their needs.”

Last month, Home Group, the enterprise behind the housing bid, pulled out of the process, saying it had ‘decided on this occasion to no longer pursue our plans at the County Hall site’.

Now, it has been confirmed that all three applications have been withdrawn, meaning the public inquiry will not go ahead.