Green light for unpopular Northumberland homes scheme - again

The site of the homes in Acklington.
The site of the homes in Acklington.

A contentious housing development in a north Northumberland village has been given the go-ahead once more, despite going back before councillors for a fresh decision.

The scheme for 22 new homes on land west of Acklington Village Hall was passed by just one vote when the North Northumberland Local Council debated it the first time round – in February.

At last week’s meeting, where it was was one of a number of previously-approved applications to go back before the committee for another decision, it was given the nod by five votes to one, with three abstentions.

The unpopular bid had sparked 85 objections from residents the first time round due to concerns around road safety, impact on the village hall, flooding and drainage, the development being too large, a lack of need for the type of houses proposed and a lack of services in the village.

Objector Tessa Sayers outlined many of these when she spoke at last Thursday’s (November 22) meeting, including underlining that the village hall is a lifeline for Acklington and that this development is not only not sustainable from a social point of view, ‘but threatens to undermine the one amenity the village does have’.

But Coun Gordon Castle said: “I can’t find a reason to refuse it. There’s not many facilities in Acklington, but there’s many nearby, and the view from the village hall will be worse, but more people might mean more use for the village hall.”

Coun Jeff Watson agreed that there were no grounds to reject it, adding: “We have a responsibility to our residents, but we also have a responsibility to carry out government legislation – we are like magistrates in that respect.”

However, Coun Georgina Hill was convinced by the objector’s case and said: “I heard only one side with premises and a conclusion, the other side is just conclusions.”

The planning permission is subject to a section 106 legal agreement for four on-site affordable homes at no more than 80 per cent market rent in perpetuity, £39,600 for education and an ecological contribution of £600 per dwelling.

It was back before the councillors as it had not been finally signed off due to various issues to iron out, including the completion of the section 106 legal agreement.

In the meantime, the Government published its updated and refreshed planning rulebook – the NPPF – in the summer and so the proposals were reassessed in light of this new advice.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service