Former Benfield Motors site in Morpeth planning application: Majority of attendees at drop-in 'supportive' of the bid

The developer behind a bid to redevelop a large derelict site in the Morpeth area has said it is largely pleased with the public response.
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Plans have been drawn up to create a care home and a number of care apartments on the site of the former Benfield Motors showroom, in Castle Square near one of the entrances to Carlisle Park.

After many years and the subsequent acquisition of a number of neighbouring properties adjacent to the original Benfield site, developer Roseville (Hillgate) Limited was finally in a position to submit an application to Northumberland County Council for a total of 105 apartments – a combination of 81 single bedrooms and 24 suites – late last year.

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Although there has been a mixed response on the local authority’s planning portal, there are more comments from members of the public in favour of the proposal than against it so far and Roseville says the majority of the 97 people who attended its recent public drop-in at Morpeth Town Hall “were very supportive”.

An artist’s impression of a section of the proposed development.An artist’s impression of a section of the proposed development.
An artist’s impression of a section of the proposed development.

At the event in the Corn Exchange, members of the project team were on hand to answer any questions about the project.

Those who went along were able to see a running video of the the site showing how it stands at present and then contrasting images of what it would look like should the application be approved, as well as showing various montages and floor plans of the site and buildings in its current state and additional images of what it would look like in the future.

Roseville spokesman David Nicholson said: “We were pleased that the majority of the public were very supportive of our proposals and were genuinely surprised at the amount of work that was involved in bringing a development of this size forward for planning, wondering why it had taken so long, but were pleased to see that something was finally being done to develop the derelict site.

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“There were also a few dissenters at the event, as one would expect for a project of this size, who came to voice their objections in person. Their concerns varying from the buildings being too high, the site should be made available for public access and incorporated into Carlisle Park and that the design was too contemporary for Morpeth and the location.

“Most people will understand that you will never please everybody on a project such as this and that you will always get somebody objecting on the basis of their own personal point of view and, as an example, we even have professional consultees, experts in their their field, who fundamentally disagree with each other’s heritage statements, which we find very confusing and frustrating

“But what cannot be disputed is that the site’s previous use would not be suitable for its town centre location and because of the costs of remediating the contamination issues it has deterred development up until this proposal, which we hope will succeed and help bring this prominent brownfield site back to life again.”

The application can be viewed at the county council’s online Public Access Planning Register using the reference 23/04342/FUL.