PLANS: Consequences can’t be fixed

We note your article re the revised plans from Northumberland Estates to build 60 houses, plus a main road to the train station with bus terminal and car park, off Curly Lane and the A1068 (Northumberland Gazette, February 28).

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:47 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:48 am

As people directly affected by the plans, and whose new objections you quote, we feel it is important to clarify important aspects of why we, and many others, continue to object.

This is important to us because it is clear that extensive dialogue is occurring between Northumberland Estates and the planning department.

Our unhappiness with the plans can’t be put down to a ‘nimby’ response.

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When we moved here we realised that it was possible that at some point the land around us could be built upon.

While we are understandably unhappy with how the revised plans will further reduce the privacy, light, quiet and views we currently experience, directly affecting our quality of life, we are also very concerned about a number of issues that will have long-terms consequences for the local and regional environment.

These consequences cannot be fixed by cash payments to statutory authorities to negate the impact of the building.

Alongside the plans to build 41 houses at the other side of Lesbury, this application will create urbanisation of the area with the loss of clear boundaries between the current villages of Lesbury and Hipsburn.

Valuable arable land, extensively used by wildlife as a corridor between the mainland and the coast, including at risk birds such as curlews and owls, and mammals such as bats and hares, will be destroyed.

The prominent location of the land to be built on and the volume of housing will mean long-range views, including from an Area of Outstanding Beauty, will be lost forever.

Much of the justification for building so many houses in this small area is the promise of additional car parking at Alnmouth train station.

Local residents are being asked to see our quality of life reduced to make way for additional car parking and what it is believed will be the broader benefit to the region.

However, as several submissions on the plan indicate, this is not a good solution to the problem of parking at the station. We will now have three separate car parks servicing the station, with cars endlessly circling looking for somewhere to park.

The other justification for the plan is the apparent need for housing in the area. Yet various housing surveys of both the local area and the broader region indicate that housing needs are already being more than met by the houses already being built and approved.

The final significant issue is that the Estates is seeking to push this through before the Lesbury Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) is fully approved; the NDP is clearly supported by the local community, but it is not fully ratified yet.

The Estates seem to want its proposals approved before the local communities’ wishes for the area can carry substantial weight.

Our wishes do not exclude development, we only ask for it to be responsive, sustainable and in keeping with the local area.

There is a legacy responsibility which comes with inheriting such extensive and valuable land; we ask the Northumberland Estates to honour that responsibility.

Katie Ash, Hal and Janet Bilton, Ian and Angela Clough, Nicola and Kevin Franklin, Janice McLaughlin, Billy Stephenson, Tom and Sheila Wilson, Alan and Ann Winwright