Scores of Warkworth residents attended the North Area Planning Committee on December 5.
Our interest in Northumberland Estates’ proposal to build 37 new properties at Morwick Road has been high in our thoughts for many months.
In the end, we were delighted with the outcome and we are all indebted to three councillors who were willing to listen to the majority view of local residents and willing to stand up to Northumberland Estates ‘plans to build in our village.
There are many facts in relation to the scheme and indeed future schemes, which do not hold up to close scrutiny.
Firstly, Northumberland County Council’s own figures, published as recently as October, show that the former Alnwick DC area needs 291 new properties in the period 2013/18.
Work has already started or permission has been granted for 411 new properties. The latter figure does not include the 27, affordable properties, granted permission in October this year.
We are forced to ask ourselves why any further rampant, commercial development is necessary?
In addition to building in urban areas, NCC would like to ensure a supply of housing in secondary centres.
It calls these ‘sustainable villages’. In an ideal world, 24 per cent of the new housing supply should be in such villages.
During the meeting both NCC and Northumberland Estates referred to the fact that Warkworth is a sustainable village. However, predictably, they neglected to mention that there are also nine other sustainable villages in the former Alnwick DC area.
If the councillors had voted for the scheme, over the coming years Warkworth would have had to absorb the following: 27 affordable homes granted permission October 2013; 37 private homes on the Morwick Road site; eight further affordable homes, Northumberland Estates offered to build if the Morwick Road site was granted permission.
This is a total of 72 new properties.
Are we really to believe that there are absolutely no development opportunities in the other nine sustainable villages?
If the Morwick Road scheme had been approved, Warkworth would have provided NCC’s entire sustainable village quota, for the next five years. That would have been truly scandalous.
As a final point, all attendees were dismayed by the fact that both the planners and Northumberland Estates made frequent reference to the need for affordable housing in the Warkworth area.
This may or may not be true, but should have had no bearing on the course of the meeting. The Morwick Road development is a private development.
There is no provision for tenants or shared ownership. It would be fairly safe to assume that, even the least expensive property on the proposed development, would be out of the reach of most first time buyers.
To summarise, we are truly proud of the efforts our village has made to counter this ill conceived development. We trust all concerned will take on the points above.