Councillors refuse to 'sacrifice' part of Northumberland village

The site of the proposed homes in Longframlington.
The site of the proposed homes in Longframlington.

Councillors said part of a north Northumberland village should not be ‘sacrificed’ to gain road upgrades as they threw out a housing bid.

Planning officers said that the social benefit of a full realignment of the A697/C106 junction in Longframlington outweighed the environmental impacts of outline proposals for 40 new homes nearby.

The junction of the A697 and the C106 Alnwick Fords road.

The junction of the A697 and the C106 Alnwick Fords road.

But members of the North Northumberland Local Area Council wholeheartedly disagreed at last Thursday’s meeting, rejecting the scheme by eight votes to zero with one abstention.

Coun Jeff Watson moved refusal on the grounds of over-development, changing the character of the village and adverse environmental impact, which would not be outweighed by the benefits proposed.

“I don’t think we should approve a development to make a junction safe,” he said. “Surely if we have a bad junction, our highways team should do it?”

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson added: “I don’t think the improvements are going to make much difference anyway, the problem is that there are too many cars on the A697.

“We shouldn’t sacrifice this part of the village to get it and I don’t think it outweighs the substantial harm to the village.”

The application, for a site at the northern end of the village, to the south of Lightpipe Farm , had sparked objections from 15 residents as well as the parish council, which described Longframlington as ‘over-stretched’.

Speaking at the meeting, chairman Coun Graham Fremlin said: “There are currently 107 homes under construction or with approval and 36 up for sale.

“There are three, four, five, even six-bedroom houses available and the only shortage is for two-bedroom affordable homes and sheltered housing.

“The junction proposals will not make it easier for large vehicles to turn left and we fail to see how it will be safer for pedestrians, particularly with 40 extra houses added to the traffic.”

Resident Steven Buckley said that if this scheme was approved, the village would have grown by over 50 per cent in six years.

“Why are we proposing to develop this high-quality agricultural land when we have a 12.1 year supply of housing land?” he added. “This development is all about loss, not gain.”

But the applicant’s agent, Katherine Brooker, said that some who do not wish the village to get any larger ‘may view Longframlington as a victim of its own sustainability success’, but that these are private views which should not be seen as a reason for refusal.

If it had been approved, the developer would also have had to create a two-metre-wide footway along the C106, from the access to the A697; provide bus stops on the A697; provide six affordable homes on site; and make contributions of £72,000 for education, due to KEVI in Morpeth being at capacity, and £30,300 to support GP practices.

A number of other schemes have been approved/built in Longframlington in recent years.

In November 2014, Alnwick-based house-builder Cussins was given the green light for 37 new homes on land north of Rimside View.

This followed a development by Two Castles Housing Association, working with Partner Construction, of 25 energy-efficient homes for rent to local people, at Healeycote View on Rothbury Road.

A scheme for 10 detached properties to the north of the village, on land opposite the cemetery, was lodged in May 2015 and then approved, despite objections, by a council planning committee in December that year.

Then, in 2016, Cussins submitted a bid for another 26 homes, on land north of Cairn View, for the second phase of its Fenwick Park development, taking the total number of properties to 63.

In March last year, the planning committee approved nine detached dwellings at North End Farm, before refusing Miller Homes’ proposal for 39 homes on land next to West Lane Caravan Park in April.

A scaled-down application for 29 properties was then turned down by the North Northumberland Local Area Council in August, but the original 39-house scheme was approved on appeal last October.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service