Concerns about homes plans

The planned housing at Amble's Coquet Enterprise Park.
The planned housing at Amble's Coquet Enterprise Park.

Concerned residents have signed a petition against plans for homes on a town’s industrial estate, while proposals to demolish a former school for residential development has been branded ‘perverse’.

Negative comments were voiced by councillors and members of the public during Amble Town Council’s planning committee meeting on Tuesday night, to discuss two separate proposals for homes in The Friendliest Port.

One of the schemes, by Arch and Trivselhus, is for 51 homes for rent at Coquet Enterprise Park, with a mix of houses, bungalows and flats.

The second, by Northern Coastal Developments, is for the demolition of the former St Cuthbert’s RC First School, to replace it with seven three-bedroom bungalows and seven three-bedroom town houses.

Both schemes have been submitted to Northumberland County Council, at a time when Amble is inundated with plans for new housing, with more than 1,000 proposed for various sites in the town by different applicants.

Northumberland’s draft core strategy identifies a need for at least 600 houses to be built in Amble between 2011 and 2031.

At the meeting, Coun Helen Lewis spoke out against both plans. Regarding the Catholic school site, she said: “This application seeks to remove a valued past and a potentially future-needed community facility which currently provides recreational and open space well used by the community’s children.

“The town is currently expanding with more housing applications to be determined; the likelihood is that a much greater number of children will be entered into the educational system.

“Even with the resultant increased pupil funding, the current first school facilities will be unable to accommodate the projected numbers without expansion of the actual buildings.

“This site is adjacent to an existing school with all its facilities, including a secure fence and playing fields. It would seem perverse indeed in these times of financial restraint and lack of suitable land to use this valuable asset for housing and then have to finance other means for our children’s education.”

Of the scheme for Coquet Enterprise Park, she said: “This site needs to be kept for future employment use.

“This is the only area designated for such usage in this town. Where will future employers go if they want to come here? Where will all the future residents of this expanding town find employment?

“There is scope for many types of businesses to locate to Amble if this area is kept for employment use. It is vital that we retain land for permanent jobs.”

Mayor Jane Dargue agreed, saying “We don’t need more housing.” Speaking about the plan for the former school plot, she said: “We need this as a valuable place for education, or at least something that’s not for housing.”

Regarding the enterprise park, she said: “This area is a key area for growth for employment; we can’t afford to lose it.”

Resident June Watson handed in a petition against the enterprise-park scheme, signed by locals living on Lindisfarne Road.

After presenting it, she said she was against both schemes, saying that there is not the infrastructure in place in the town to support more homes and that the industrial estate is needed for jobs.

Resident Louise Little said that the homes at the enterprise park would back onto a skip yard, with crushing and incinerating facilities.

“If you reversed it, you wouldn’t be allowed to build a skip yard behind houses if the homes were already there – they’d say no way.”