The application, for the demolition of the existing buildings and the construction of the new houses at Westroad Garage, on Rothbury Road in Longframlington, was unanimously refused at last Thursday’s (February 21) meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.
The site, which is owned by Tustain Motors, was until recently used as a car showroom with servicing and accident repair workshops, but market conditions led to its services being transferred to the company’s Alnwick base.
The proposals were for four four-bedroom properties and five three-bedroom dwellings, with two to be accessed from the existing entrance on Rothbury Road, another from Church Street and the other five via a new access from the estate road of Cairn Park.
Planners had recommended approval, but Coun Trevor Thorne, the local ward member, moved refusal on the grounds of design, height and massing, which was supported by the other committee members.
“The village does mourn the loss of its garage,” he said. “As a village, we do miss this little economic hub which did employ a lot of people locally.
“However, it does give us the opportunity to improve the street-scape in this area. We have got to get it right.
“Tustain is trying to pack too many houses on this site. We just want the right development for this site.”
Coun Jeff Watson explained that there are often unpopular applications for which it is ‘difficult to find a proper argument’ for refusal, but added: “I think in this case the reasons are satisfactory.
“I’m not against development in this area, I don’t think anyone is, but I don’t think this finds the right balance.”
Earlier in the meeting, resident John McCutcheon had expressed a number of concerns, with Coun Graham Fremlin, chairman of Longframlington Parish Council, also highlighting issues.
Mr McCutcheon pointed out that Cairn Park is ‘exclusively bungalows’ and the ‘proposed properties will overshadow them and affect their amenity’.
“Squeezing nine houses on this site is both inappropriate and needless,” he added, referring to the fact that the village has doubled in size in the past five years.
However, Brian Baxter, managing director of Tustain Motors, explained that the site layout had been amended in response to the concerns from local residents.
He added that the company had taken on the site in 2016 and it was never the intention to rationalise, but the difficulties in the sector meant the decision was taken to move to Alnwick, with all of the staff found other roles in the business.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service