Following several letters regarding Northumberland Estate’s proposals for the Duke’s School site (Northumberland Gazette, August 16), I would like to raise something that many local residents have contacted me to discuss.
Over a year ago, I wrote a piece to the Gazette regarding my concerns that Neighbourhood Plans “wouldn’t be worth the paper they’re written on” following the Conservatives’ withdrawal of the Core Planning Strategy shortly after the local elections.
It was clear to me and many other residents that problems would occur further down the line when a large developer (such as Northumberland Estates) challenged the Plan or encroached on land not allocated for development without the underpinning protection of the strategy.
An official response was published from Coun Robbie Moore, the Tory councillor for Alnwick, who voted to scrap the Core Strategy. He reassured residents that this was not the case and that people like myself were simply political scaremongers.
I informed the residents who were concerned about the withdrawal of the strategy that I would continue to challenge this decision and any impact it has on the local community further down the line.
Now, only a year later, it would seem that the concerns shared by me and many other residents were legitimate all along, with Northumberland Estates seeking to challenge the Neighbourhood Plan in two developments in the town – housing at Windy Edge and, as explained expertly in residents’ letters last week, the Duke’s School site.
Despite the continued concerns from residents, councillors are repeatedly ignoring the fact that this withdrawal of the Core Planning Strategy has enabled developers, such as Northumberland Estates, to challenge local plans and seek planning permission for developments that previously would have been rejected.
Once again, despite their negative comments previously, I invite the Alnwick councillors to explain why they voted to scrap the Core Planning Strategy, leaving a convenient window for developers, and why, only 12 months ago, they labelled this ‘political scaremongering’.