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Local Plan proposals for main towns: West Northumberland

The Local Plan proposals for Hexham.
The Local Plan proposals for Hexham.

There is just over a week left to have your say on the draft Local Plan for Northumberland.

Residents, businesses, community and voluntary groups, town and parish councils, and anyone with an interest in the future of the county are invited to have their say on the framework that will guide development up to 2036.

The Local Plan proposals for Haltwhistle.

The Local Plan proposals for Haltwhistle.

The public consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday, August 15, and the plan and details on how to respond are at www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplan
There are 12 main towns designated in the document and here are the details of the three in the west – Haltwhistle, Hexham and Prudhoe.

HALTWHISTLE

Haltwhistle will continue to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism.

It will be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.

The Local Plan proposals for Prudhoe.

The Local Plan proposals for Prudhoe.

The Local Plan defines a settlement limit for the town to cover the plan period, with a view to containing the spread of development and maintaining the town as a sustainable settlement.

The proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 is around 290 over the plan period (15 per year).

In order to achieve this target, several sites are proposed for allocation in the Haltwhistle, amounting to somewhere between 85 and 110 of the required dwellings, (depending on detailed site considerations), with the remainder coming from completions and sites with permission or minded to approve applications.

No additional employment land allocations are proposed over and above existing available land. The West Delivery Area has the lowest current supply of land, but also limited market demand.

Key to the maps.

Key to the maps.

Hadrian Industrial Estate in Haltwhistle is the main employment site and the remaining land and premises there will be protected for B-class use, with a flexible approach applying to other sites in the town.

Haltwhistle’s centre falls into the second level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘main town – smaller centre’ with good local retail provision along with a reasonable range of town centre community facilities, serving the town itself and with a modest rural hinterland.

This role along with its vitality and viability as a centre will be protected and enhanced through policy.

The town benefits from its central role within the South Tyne area and its location on the Newcastle to Carlisle routes, but its relative remoteness from main centres of population affects its marketability as a location for employment and housing.

Part of the town’s potential is as a hub for tourism, sandwiched as it is between the National Park and the North Pennines AONB, plus its position close to Hadrian’s Wall.

The South Tynedale Railway has potential to link the North Pennines AONB and South Tynedale with the national railway network at Haltwhistle.

HEXHAM

The town council is currently preparing a neighbourhood plan and their emerging policies and proposals have guided the proposals shown in the Draft Local Plan.

Hexham will continue to act as a key hub and focus for people to live, but the green-belt boundary places a restriction on how the town can grow.

So future housing in the town is limited to sites that already have permission or minded to approve and a few small-scale allocations.

The focus will be on retaining its role as a hub for the town itself and the wide hinterland that it serves providing opportunities for new employment development, adequate provision of education, healthcare, shopping and other essential services, and scope for visitors and tourists to boosts the local economy.

The Local Plan will not be defining a settlement limit for the town as this would coincide with the green-belt inset boundary.

The proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 is around 530 over the plan period (27 per year), reflecting the constraints of the town’s green-belt location but providing for its essential housing needs.

In order to achieve this target, several sites are proposed for allocation, amounting to somewhere between 80 and 115 of the required dwellings, (depending on detailed site considerations), with the remainder coming from completions and sites with permission or minded to approve applications.

There is a requirement for an additional employment land allocation of around 10 hectares over and above existing available land.

The town has been relatively successful in attracting new businesses, but has very little vacant land on which employment can locate.

Analysis has shown that the only way to achieve this exceptional need is for a modest green-belt deletion and that the best location for this is to the east of the existing Egger plant.

A more flexible approach to the ranges of business uses, locating in the existing industrial estates close to the town centre, can be taken.

Hexham’s centre falls into the top level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a main town – larger centre’, with a good level of retail provision along with town centre community facilities.

It is reasonably well provided for in terms of accessibility by public transport and has a good level of off-street car parking.

It acts as a community hub for a large population covering the town and its wide rural hinterland. This role along with its vitality and viability as a centre will be protected and enhanced through policy.

Part of the green-belt release proposed at Hexham for employment purposes will allow for sand and gravel extraction prior to becoming available for employment uses.

The area of the employment site proposed for extraction forms part of a larger sand and gravel extraction site within the green belt.

The land is not required for removal from the green belt for extraction purposes, but it is intended that the land will be made available for employment uses within the plan period.

It is anticipated that sand and gravel extraction and restoration of this site would help to stabilise the land prior to development for employment uses and would address a floodplain issue.

The green belt has to be protected in terms of its overall purposes. Notwithstanding the exceptional circumstances that require a deletion for employment purposes, the strategy will ensure that this is the case.

There are issues maintaining the integrity of Hexham’s heritage and setting which will be ensured through the Local Plan policies.

There remains an issue of the lack of a dual carriageway on the A69 west of the town. The Local Plan supports such a scheme.

A neighbourhood plan is being prepared for the town. Cooperation between the county and town councils will ensure that the two plans align.

PRUDHOE

Prudhoe will continue to act as a key hub for housing, employment, education, healthcare, retail, transport and tourism.

It will be the main focus for development to underpin its social, economic, environmental and cultural regeneration.

The Local Plan will not be defining a settlement limit for the town because this would coincide with the green-belt inset boundary.

The Local Plan does not propose any major change to the green-belt boundary, which wraps fairly tightly around the existing built-up areas.

Prudhoe Hospital site, while being redeveloped for housing, will remain ‘washed over’ by the green belt, meaning that certain restrictions on building will continue to apply, once the housing scheme is complete.

However, exceptional circumstances warrant a revision to the inset boundary in the Eltringham area to accommodate future employment needs.

The proposed requirement for additional dwellings between April 2016 and March 2036 is around 630 over the plan period (32 per year).

Land with permission at the former Prudhoe Hospital, once built out, will contribute a large proportion of these homes, which will sit within a green-belt environment.

The Local Plan also proposes a site at West Road Cemetery in Prudhoe, amounting to somewhere between 20 and 30 of the required dwellings, (depending on detailed site considerations), with the remainder coming from completions and sites with permission or minded to approve applications.

There is a successful industrial area, providing a range of employers including a large paper production company and other manufacturing industry.

However, further available land is in relatively short supply and an additional area of land for employment will be allocated within an area to be removed from green-belt protection, at Eltringham, close to the existing Low Prudhoe Industrial Estate.

Prudhoe’s town centre is on the second level of the hierarchy of town centres, being a ‘main town – smaller centre’ with good local retail provision along with a reasonable range of town centre community facilities, serving the town itself and with a modest rural hinterland.

This role along with its vitality and viability as a centre will be protected and enhanced through policy.

Prudhoe is close to Tyneside but also has access issues, especially in terms of poor linkages to the main east-west A69 Trunk Road, which lies north of the river barrier.

The town’s residents (nevertheless) obtain many of their services from Tyneside. There is scope for the service offer of the town to improve.

The green belt is tightly drawn and may constrain its housing role over the Plan period. It has to be protected in terms of its overall purposes, unless most opportunities within the town are taken up. Notwithstanding this, exceptional circumstances require a deletion for employment purposes.

Prudhoe lies at the northern edge of the Tyne Derwent Watershed coalfield resource that has been the subject of opencast proposals in recent years. Such proposals will be determined according to a set of criteria in the Local Plan.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service