Major development on edge of Cramlington shouldn't go ahead, say planners

Plans for up to 501 homes on the outskirts of Cramlington are recommended for refusal next week as the development would eat up valuable employment land.

Thursday, 3rd January 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 07:25 am
The proposed development site is behind Northumberland Fire and Rescue Services headquarters at West Hartford.

The proposals by the Homes and Communities Agency, for land at West Hartford Business Park, to the north-west of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s HQ, go before next Tuesday’s (January 8) meeting of the county council’s strategic planning committee for a decision.

This application is a hybrid submission seeking full planning permission for a wildlife mitigation area covering 26 hectares on the northern part of the site and outline permission for up to 501 dwellings, a primary-care facility and associated open space on the southern 25-hectare section of the site.

Off-site highway works have been put forward to improve the site’s connections to Cramlington town centre for pedestrians and cyclists – toucan crossings over the A192 and a three-metre-wide, segregated footway/cycleway along the eastern edge of the A1171 which would connect with an existing route into town.

The applicant has also agreed to enter into a section 106 legal agreement to provide 15 per cent affordable housing , contributions towards education, healthcare and coastal mitigation, bus-service provision, strategic road network upgrades and a plan to secure long-term management of the ecological/wildlife area.

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However, councillors are being asked to reject the bid as planners consider that the scheme ‘would result in the loss of a high-quality employment site, would significantly diminish the range of employment land available both locally and county-wide for employment development and undermine regional and local strategies for economic development and regeneration which seek to promote employment development on the application site and within the locality of which it is a part’.

A secondary reason for refusal is that ‘insufficient detail has been provided regarding bird-strike risk matters in respect of the on-site wildlife mitigation area, resulting in uncertainty regarding the delivery of appropriate mitigation for great crested newts within the site’.

The application has also been opposed by Cramlington Town Council, which has highlighted that it falls outside the town envelope, is seen as development in open countryside and that there is ‘no pressing need for further housing’ given land for more than 4,000 new homes has been provisionally identified in the emerging neighbourhood plan.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service