118 homes approved on edge of Northumberland village

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Residents were left angry as councillors reluctantly and narrowly gave the go-ahead to 118 new homes in a Northumberland village.

Developer Galley’s application for a mix of two, three and four-bedroom properties on land north-east of Hebron Avenue, in Pegswood, was approved at Tuesday night’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

The scheme had previously gone before the committee in March, but was deferred for councillors to go on a site visit, mainly to look at the access amid road-safety fears.

The meeting heard that the applicant will now provide traffic islands to the east of the entrance on Dark Lane and a one-way priority feature to the west.

Local concerns on a range of issues were voiced by resident Kenneth Bodenham, parish councillor Paul Williams and the area’s county councillor, David Towns.

Coun Jeff Reid first moved refusal of the plans, largely based on over-development – the site is earmarked for housing in the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan, but only around 61 homes were envisaged. However, council planners emphasised that the neighbourhood plan does not place a policy limit on the number of houses.

This motion failed and Coun Gordon Castle moved approval, saying: “It seems the numbers in the neighbourhood plan are not a reason for refusal, therefore I have a struggle to find any other reasons – that seemed to be the main one. It’s perfectly clear it isn’t wanted, but not wanting it isn’t a planning reason.”

And a slim majority of the other committee members agreed with him.

Coun Rupert Gibson said: “I’m not particularly happy with the density of the houses, but I don’t think we have much leeway to do anything about it – we are going back to planning law.”

The chairman, Coun Colin Horncastle, added: “There’s nothing I would like more than to refuse this, however, when you work through it on planning grounds, you hit a brick wall so to speak.”

Admitting defeat, Coun Reid said: “I’m disappointed that this really good opportunity to add value to Pegswood has been lost by trying to put as many houses on there as possible.

“Sometimes we have to take a stand on things, let’s not have a Northumberland that looks like everywhere else.”

In terms of affordable housing, the scheme will provide six two-bedroom bungalows for social rent and six homes for sale at discount market value – two two-bedroom and four three-bedroom.

The section 106 agreement will also include contributions for secondary education (£301,400) and the village’s GP surgery (£72,900), as well as a naturalistic play area which is to be built on an open space in the centre of the development.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service