Delight after housing bid refused

Anne Puddephatt and Fiona Burns with other Warkworth residents who are protesting against the planning development off Morwick Road.
Anne Puddephatt and Fiona Burns with other Warkworth residents who are protesting against the planning development off Morwick Road.

Delighted objectors cheered and applauded as a controversial housing scheme was booted out – but the fight might not be over yet.

Opponents packed into Alnwick’s council chamber on Thursday to show the strength of feeling against amended plans for 37 homes in Warkworth.

There were shouts of yes from the public gallery as members of the north area planning committee reached a narrow 3-2 verdict to refuse the contentious bid.

But the saga may not be over, as applicant Northumberland Estates has said it will look to progress the development of housing in the village over the coming months.

However, defiant villagers say they are prepared to go into battle once again.

Speaking on behalf of the objectors, Anne Puddephatt, said: “We are ready and we will fight strongly again.

“The key thing is it doesn’t matter where the homes are proposed. What we have clearly shown is that there is no need for more private homes in the village. We are delighted with the decision. It is a victory for common sense.”

The scheme, recommended for approval, was earmarked for land east of Old Barns Close, Morwick Road.

The Estates’ original plan was to build 44 private houses, but this sparked huge objection, including a petition signed by more than 300 people.

A revised scheme reduced the number to 37, as well as removing plots near to the Grade II-listed Old Barns Farmhouse and reducing the larger two-and-a-half storey units throughout the site to two-storey, with the exception of some properties fronting Morwick Road.

Barry Spall, of the Estates, said that it was a sustainable location for development, would contribute to the vitality of the village and would not impact on the historic core.

But objectors criticised the plan for a number of reasons, including concerns over traffic and parking, unsustainability and that the village already has houses for sale and its fair share of holiday/second homes.

Prof John Hobrough described it as unnecessary and in the wrong place while county and parish coun Jeff Watson said it was a classic case of overkill, which would ‘change forever this beautiful part of our national heritage’.

Couns Gordon Castle and Trevor Thorne voted reluctantly in favour, saying they could not find any planning grounds to refuse.

But Coun Heather Cairns led the counter, criticising the scheme on a number of grounds, including its density being too great for a historic village, which prompted applause from objectors.

She was not convinced by the flood-prevention methods proposed and questioned the development’s sustainability.

Alan Sambrook and Gavin Jones also voted to refuse.

Afterwards, an Estates spokesman said: “We are disappointed and surprised by the refusal reasons. We will be looking at options to progress the development of housing in Warkworth in line with the council’s strategy for housing and to support the rural economy over the coming months.”