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Northumberland ‘gated community’ plans rejected

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Plans which critics claim would have created a gated community in a rural Northumberland village have been rejected by councillors.

The application for electric vehicle gates at the entrance of the Birkey Heights development in Acomb, near Hexham, had been recommended for approval by planners at Northumberland County Council.

But the scheme had sparked objections from the parish council and eight residents and it was refused at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Tynedale Local Area Council.

One of the main bones of contention among those opposed to the bid was that the creation of a gated community was not in keeping with the village and would be ‘socially divisive’.

Concerns were also expressed about the impact on traffic and road safety on Garden House Bank, although one letter of support suggested that gates would help reduce the speed of vehicles entering the estate.

One resident who objected to the scheme, Kathryn Thomas, wrote: ‘A gated community goes against all that a rural village community is about and is out of keeping with a traditional village.

‘This is not a cohesive approach to village life and will, I fear, not help the incorporation of the new residents into the Acomb community, but rather it will set them apart.’

Ian Dixon added: ‘A gated development is not necessary or appropriate and does not reflect the community ethos of the village.’

However, the planning officer’s report said: ‘It is not considered that there would be any adverse social impact arising from the installation of the vehicular gates, with pedestrian access through the site to be maintained.’

The proposed gates, which would have been set 11 metres back from the road, would have included an intercom system to be controlled remotely by residents.

The application indicated that private refuse vehicles, postal vehicles and other service vehicles would be issued a fob or code to access the site.

Avant Homes’ application for the 40-home Birkey Heights development was approved in February last year.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service