Affordable housing concerns raised as new homes approved

The site proposed for 18 homes in Thropton.
The site proposed for 18 homes in Thropton.

Permission for up to 18 new homes on the outskirts of a Coquetdale village was granted, as affordable housing provision in the area was bemoaned.

The outline bid for a site on the western edge of Thropton, to the south of the B6341, was approved by the North Northumberland Local Area Council last Thursday by 11 votes to zero with one abstention.

The proposed development is across the road from the site to the west of Northern 4×4 Centre, which has outline permission for up to 60 homes, dating back five years.

The detailed application for this site, for 44 homes, was lodged with Northumberland County Council earlier this year, but has not yet been decided.

Coun Steven Bridgett, the area’s ward councillor, moved approval, saying there was no reason to refuse it, but he added that it was ‘one of the worst applications for the delivery of affordable housing in my area in my 10 years as a councillor’.

“It’s not even the fault of the developer because they offered land,” he went on.

As it stands, the developer will provide three discount market value (DMV) homes on site, but the meeting heard that it had made an offer of land, which Coun Bridgett suggested could have been used to build homes for social rent.

He claimed that not one of the DMV homes built in Rothbury 10 years ago had been bought by a local person and that three major developments – two in Rothbury and one in Thropton – over the past six years had so far not delivered a single affordable home.

The type of housing and the increasing number of high-end homes in the village was the main thrust of a statement by Ian Webb, from Thropton Parish Council, which was read out in his absence.

In his late 70s, he described himself ‘as part of the problem in Thropton’, where there aren’t the right homes to keep young people in the village.

“We don’t want a posh people’s retirement village,” he added.

But Laura Dixon, from the applicant’s agent George F White, said that while much has been made about recent development in the village, this application should be determined on its own merits.

As well as the three affordable homes, a section 106 legal agreement will secure a five-year management plan for a landscape buffer, and a £24,000 contribution for education, as KEVI in Morpeth is at capacity.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service