Councillors ignored the advice of planners to turn down an outline bid for new homes in Alnwick, mainly due to the impact on the landscape.
Northumberland Estates was seeking permission for 15 self-build plots on land north-east of Stoney Hills, between the golf course and Aydon View/Fairfields.
It is to the south of Alnwick Castle Golf Club’s current clubhouse and car park, where 10 detached houses were approved in October and it was suggested that access to the latest proposals would have been via this site, although this was not up for approval. To the south-west is the under-construction Willowburn Park development, where 271 homes are planned in total.
When submitted earlier this year, the bid was for 19 homes, but this was reduced to leave some open space on the site and the application was recommended for approval at yesterday’s (Thursday, December 20) meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.
However, Coun Robbie Moore moved refusal on the grounds of its impact on the landscape and the nearby listed buildings/heritage assets plus concerns about access.
Planning boss Liz Sinnamon warned that the latter two reasons would be difficult to defend at appeal given the advice from the council’s own experts – the conservation officer and highways team – was that there were no issues which would warrant rejection.
Planning officer James Bellis had also explained that as the proposals were in outline, a detailed assessment of the impact on the landscape was not possible, so the conclusion was that 15 homes could potentially be accommodated on the site without a detrimental impact on the landscape.
The design of the properties would be subject to further applications and there was a condition which would have been attached to the permission that a design strategy document had to be agreed before these applications.
But the councillors stuck to their guns and the plans were refused by four votes to three.
Earlier in the meeting, a statement from Coun Gordon Castle, who was not present, said that he has ‘known this area since boyhood as open countryside criss-crossed by well-used footpaths’.
Coun Martin Swinbank, from Alnwick Town Council, outlined that the greenfield site is not allocated for housing in the neighbourhood plan and lies outside the town’s settlement boundary in the latest draft of the Northumberland Local Plan, which was approved by the authority’s cabinet just a day before.
However, Guy Munden, from the Northumberland Estates, said that the planning officer’s report had rightly identified it as a ‘windfall site’, making it compatible with the neighbourhood plan, and highlighted that it is surrounded on three sides by residential development.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service