Appeal over refused Alnwick housing scheme

The original site plan of the proposed redevelopment of Willowburn Trading Estate.
The original site plan of the proposed redevelopment of Willowburn Trading Estate.

Alnwick’s neighbourhood plan is set to be tested in front of an inspector after an appeal was lodged over a refused housing bid on an industrial estate.

The outline scheme for around 125 new homes on Willowburn Trading Estate was refused unanimously by the county council’s strategic planning 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 Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan, which does not allow residential development on this site as it is designated as employment land, passed referendum and led officers to recommend refusal at the July meeting.

Now, the applicants have lodged an appeal and the Planning Inspectorate has decided that the appeal should be heard at a public inquiry, although a date is yet to be set.

The letter from the Inspectorate marking the start of the appeal says: ‘The matters that are likely to be discussed include delivery of housing sites within the council’s identified housing land supply, consideration of Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan and the NPPF, the emerging Local Plan and employment land supply.

‘In our view, when considered cumulatively, these matters are sufficiently complex to warrant an inquiry with the use of advocacy and cross-examination.’