Appeal fails to reverse bungalows planning decision for Northumberland green belt site

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The decision to refuse a developer’s application for planning permission to build 30 new homes has been upheld following an appeal.

Altoria Development had applied for outline permission to build up to 30 bungalows at a site on Stannington Station Road, near Morpeth, that is considered part of the green belt.

The proposed development would have consisted of 10 two-bedroom and 20 three-bedroom properties for the elderly and extended Altoria’s existing Furrow Grove bungalows estate.

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Northumberland County Council planning officers had denied the planning application last September, saying the open countryside, green belt development would be “unacceptable and unjustified” and that there was insufficient evidence of the need for the housing.

The proposal would have seen the expansion of the existing Furrow Grove development. (Photo by Google)The proposal would have seen the expansion of the existing Furrow Grove development. (Photo by Google)
The proposal would have seen the expansion of the existing Furrow Grove development. (Photo by Google)

Altoria lodged an appeal against the decision with central government agency The Planning Inspectorate, but their challenge was ultimately dismissed.

The original planning application had received 81 objections from members of the public and 17 supporting letters. Stannington Parish Council had also objected to the application.

Altoria’s planning statement had argued that planning policies designating the land as not appropriate for residential development were outdated and did not reflect the increasing settlement of the Stannington Station area.

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Although admitting the site was part of the green belt, Altoria argued that this designation “serves no real purpose” for this particular site.

The developer also claimed that “very special circumstances,” namely the urgent need to provide affordable housing to the county’s ageing population, existed to justify building on the green belt.

Following a hearing in March, The Planning Inspectorate issued a ruling in May saying that it backed the council’s position.

In their report, the inspector said the scheme “would not meet a justified local housing need and that it would also undermine a plan led approach.”

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The inspector also noted the homes would “not be in a sustainable location” due to the lack of available local facilities and that “potential harm could result from surface water flooding” at the site.

Regarding the green belt, the report said: “It is apparent that the proposal would have a much greater and permanent urbanising impact on the openness of the green belt than the structures that are currently present.

“Overall, the level of harm to openness would be of a significant magnitude bearing in mind the density of the proposed development. This would undermine the fundamental aim of the green belt.”

The inspector continued: “I conclude that the proposal would lead to inappropriate development, which is harmful by definition.

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“It would also cause a significant level of harm to the openness of the green belt and the purposes of including it, bearing in mind the urban sprawl that would result.”

Claims that the development met the criteria for the special circumstances required to develop green belt land were also rejected.

The report said: “The proposal would provide benefits attracting moderate weight in relation to the provision of adaptable homes and limited weight in relation to the economic benefits associated with construction phase and increased local expenditure once occupied.

“On balance, I consider that the factors that weigh in favour of the proposal do not clearly outweigh the harm that would be caused to the green belt and the other harms that would result.”

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