‘Nowhere else to go in homes fight’

Jeff Watson in Warkworth.
Jeff Watson in Warkworth.

A county councillor has ‘admitted defeat’ in his fight against a controversial scheme for around 50 houses in Warkworth.

Last month, Jeff Watson said he would try to force a U-turn after the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, decided not to call in an outline bid for Guilden Road.

It prompted a critical response from Coun Watson, who also questioned whether a letter he had sent Mr Clark, urging for the scheme to be refused, had been considered in the decision-making process.

However, he has since received correspondence from MP Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, confirming that the application will go ahead.

Coun Watson said: “I have got nowhere else to go. It is a great shame because so many residents were against it, but I have to admit defeat.”

The Northumberland Estates’ scheme was given the nod by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee in July.

A reprieve was possible as the committee was only able to say it was minded to approve the application, as the Secretary of State had indicated that he wanted to call in the scheme, meaning it could have been determined by his department. But he said the application should be determined at local level, meaning the approval stood.

The application was the latest in a line of schemes to win approval, despite mass protest from residents who claimed the village was under siege from housing developments.

In less than a year, bids for six properties at Hermitage Drive, around nine near Watershaugh Road and 37 at Morwick Road have been granted.

Twenty-seven affordable homes, granted consent in 2013, have been occupied.