Developer praised as 80 homes approved in Northumberland village

The site of the 80 homes in Felton, looking across to Benlaw Grove.
The site of the 80 homes in Felton, looking across to Benlaw Grove.

A housing development which should help bring to fruition a new doctors’ surgery in a north Northumberland village has been given the go-ahead.

At Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee, members unanimously approved Bellway Homes’ bid for 80 homes on a site off Main Street and to the north of Benlaw Grove in Felton.

Not only has the developer agreed to gift a parcel of land on the site for a GPs’ surgery to the parish council, it has also agreed to make a contribution of £250,000 to the project.

However, this will result in the number of affordable homes provided being reduced from 12 to eight (15 per cent to 10 per cent), all of which will be available for discount market value properties rather than as social-rental accommodation.

In response to a question from the chairman, Coun Paul Kelly, the council’s affordable-housing officer, said that there are currently 54 units for rent through housing associations in Felton and 14 people on the waiting list.

She added that she expects some of the social-rental properties would be freed up by people moving into the discount market value homes on the new estate as they become available.

Local ward member, Coun Trevor Thorne, spoke in favour of the development, explaining that many of the issues raised by the parish council during the process had been addressed.

He also expressed gratitude for the land and funding for the new surgery.

Coun Gordon Castle moved approval of the scheme, saying: “This is a development which has proceeded as you hope all developments would proceed – with the involvement of the local member and the parish council.

“I think this deal is more than acceptable and I’m very happy to support it.”

Coun Andrew Tebbutt said: “I hope we will make sure that if for any reason the surgery doesn’t work out, we will remember that the money should revert to an affordable-housing contribution.”

Coun Dougie Watkin added that he wanted to ensure that the surgery building would remain for community use in future even if it ceased to be a surgery.

Members were assured that these issues would be looked at as part of the section 106 legal agreement.