Decision due on new homes at farm site

A decision is due later this week on a bid for new homes on a farm site in north Northumberland.

Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 10:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 10:49 am
The site where five new homes are proposed to the south of Christon Bank. Picture by Ben O'Connell

An outline application for the demolition of an existing building and redevelopment of a site at Christon Bank Farm for up to five homes was recommended for refusal, despite the support of Embleton Parish Council, at last month’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

But members unanimously decided to visit the site, which lies around 400m south of Christon Bank, before making a decision, following a request from the applicant’s agent.

The site where five new homes are proposed to the south of Christon Bank. Picture by Ben O'Connell

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Its location in the open countryside is one of the key reasons for the recommendation of refusal, which remains unchanged for the local area council’s meeting on Thursday (April 18).

The planning officer also says that it ‘would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and character of the immediate and wider area and would result in an obtrusive development in the rural landscape, which would adversely affect the rural setting fundamentally altering the visual relationship between Christon Bank Farm and its wider countryside setting’.

Council officers also say that not enough information has been submitted in relation to contamination, noise, listed buildings and flooding.

At the March meeting, the applicant’s agent, Craig Ross, of George F White, said these latter issues can easily be resolved so the crux of the scheme is the principle of development.

He appealed for the committee to take a look for themselves rather than just rely on ‘non-existent settlement boundaries or out-of-date policies’.

The new report to councillors states that Mr Ross has reiterated this point in a letter to the council since the last meeting.

However, the planners have stuck to their guns, highlighting a recent rejected appeal decision in Old Swarland, which was in open countryside approximately 1km south of Swarland that the inspector concluded was not a suitable location for housing.

They point out that it ‘would also set an unnecessary precedent, making it more difficult for the council to resist similar residential development proposals’.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service