Alnwick homes earmarked for refusal

Willowburn Trading Estate in Alnwick, the subject of two planning applications for new homes.
Willowburn Trading Estate in Alnwick, the subject of two planning applications for new homes.

A second attempt to build homes on an Alnwick industrial estate – the first of which is subject to an ongoing appeal – is also earmarked for refusal.

It is recommended that an outline application for up to 100 homes on Willowburn Trading Estate be rejected at Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

As with the previous bid, which was turned down last year but goes before an appeal hearing next month, this is because it is contrary to the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan, which designates the site as employment land.

In addition this time round, the applicant has refused to agree to section 106 contributions for health, education and coastal mitigation (ecology), which are often sought from developers.

The first outline scheme, for around 125 new homes, was refused unanimously by the committee last July.

The proposal, by Northern Commercial Properties, registered at the Estates Office at Alnwick Castle, and the Harris & Sheldon Group (the county council was one of the applicants before withdrawing), was recommended for approval at the previous month’s meeting, but was deferred for a site visit.

Between the two meetings, the neighbourhood plan passed referendum and led officers to recommend refusal at the July 2017 meeting.

An appeal was lodged by the applicants and a public inquiry is set to start on Tuesday, July 17. It is expected to last six days.

In the meantime, this second application was submitted to the council in March.

As well as the number of homes, the site boundary has been reduced, mainly through the removal of the northern outcrop of the original scheme which houses Northumberland County Council’s former depot, no longer in use following the opening of the new Lionheart facility which now also houses the town’s fire station.

The application site still includes the home of the famous Hardy and Greys, owned since 2013 by Pure Fishing.

When the scheme was first announced in July 2016, Pure Fishing’s Grant Ottignon-Harris said that the company had recently signed a new five-year lease with the option of extending it for a further five years.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service