Controversial homes scheme will go ahead in Warkworth

Objectors to housing plans for Warkworth. Picture by The Ambler.
Objectors to housing plans for Warkworth. Picture by The Ambler.

A hotly-contested scheme to build around 50 homes in Warkworth – which protestors claim is under siege from housing developments – will go ahead, after the Secretary of State decided not to call in the plan.

And it has prompted a fierce backlash from parish and county councillor Jeff Watson, who has criticised the decision, vowed to fight for a U-turn and questioned the point in consulting with the community which had voiced objections.

It relates to an outline bid by Northumberland Estates to build the properties at Guilden Road. The application was given the nod by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee last month.

However, a reprieve was possible as the committee was only able to say it was minded to approve the application, as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) indicated that he wanted to call in the scheme, meaning it could have been determined by his department.

But Coun Watson – who wrote to Greg Clark to urge refusal – has now been told that his request has been declined and the scheme ‘should be determined at local level’ – meaning the approval will stand.

Bids for six properties at Hermitage Drive and for around nine homes on land west of Watershaugh Road met the same fate when they too were not called in by the Secretary of State. It comes on the back of 37 homes for Morwick Road being approved on appeal last year. Twenty-seven affordable homes, which were granted consent in 2013, have been built and occupied.

Coun Watson said: “I’m very disappointed at this decision and I’ve entered a further query as to wether or not my letter was considered before this decision was made, as judging by the timing of various emails it makes me question whether it had been. It means that Warkworth will have had recent planning permission granted for around 130 homes in a village that does not have a housing shortage problem

“I am determined to follow up this decision and will continue to try to get it reversed as I am convinced that it is just too many new homes in too short a time in Warkworth. I believe there is an even bigger consideration than Warkworth’s over-development at stake.

“If this planned development goes ahead and the strong objections made by local people and its parish council and county councillor are not seen as sustainable, even though they are vastly in excess of the emerging core strategy document,then I cannot see the point in consulting locally at all.

“The county council says it wishes to encourage localism and states it wants to consult with parish councils and locals, but the authority seems not to recognise the cumulative effect of developments culminating in a classic over-development of a small rural village.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “While each case is assessed on its own merits, the cumulative impact of proposed developments is an important consideration in the planning application process. The views of local people and parish council’s are also an important factor.”