Homes bid on school site back

The former St Cuthbert's RC First School in Amble.
The former St Cuthbert's RC First School in Amble.

Proposals to demolish a former school in Amble and replace it with a housing scheme are back for a decision by councillors today.

The plan is to demolish the former St Cuthbert’s RC First School, on Links Road, which closed in 2014, and build six three-bedroom bungalows and seven three-bedroom town houses.

The bid is once again recommended for approval at this afternoon’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

Members unanimously agreed to defer a decision at the September meeting, as the committee wanted more information on why a contribution for off-site affordable housing, described by Coun Steven Bridgett as a ‘get out of jail free card’, would be provided, rather than on-site affordable housing.

The report to councillors explains that 1.95 affordable homes on site, which is what the 15 per cent requirement of 13 homes would equate to, would not attract a registered provider to take them on.

This would still leave the option of discount market value homes, but the council’s affordable-housing team consider they ‘would not sit in this context’ of ‘detached, high-quality homes’.

Therefore a sum of £58,000, based on an approved methodology, would be sought.

The bid, by Gosforth-based Northern Coastal Developments Limited, was originally for seven bungalows and seven townhouses, but it was amended in late July.

Amble Town Council and 23 residents have objected, but subject to the resolution of some highways issues and the signing of a section 106 legal agreement, planning officers believe the scheme should be supported.