Plans for 50 new homes anger parish councillors

GLOSSY plans to bring scores of new houses to a former pit village have caused locals to hit the roof.

Shilbottle Parish Council was confronted with the Northumberland Estates brochure at its monthly meeting on Thursday night, which revealed a scheme for 50 homes on farmland opposite Grange Road.

But the document – entitled Future Development Options for Shilbottle – has struck a raw nerve with its members, who say previous developers have brought little benefit to the community.

In the last decade, two new estates have been added to the village, at Tyelaw Meadows and Farriers Rise, increasing the size of the settlement by a third.

Coun Elisabeth Haddow, who runs the Post Office on Grange Road, said: “This village has already had 200 new houses added to it in recent years. Since those homes were built, we have had flooding like never before and raw sewage leaking out because the drains can’t cope – and neither can the community.

“Everything which has been achieved in Shilbottle, such as the new village hall or the pharmacy, has largely been down to volunteers in the community, not developers or the county council.

“We have had to pay for everything ourselves.

“I find it a bit galling that Northumberland Estates think they know what’s best for the future of Shilbottle, since they haven’t spoken to a single member of the community about these plans.”

She added: “We have worked very hard to integrate the new parts of the village with the old and we are succeeding, but this is too much. Enough is enough.”

Coun Haddow, who is a former member of Alnwick District Council, has been backed by fellow councillor May Mills, who served alongside her on the authority.

Northumberland Estates says it plans to hold a presentation event at the village hall in due course.

Director of development Colin Barnes said: “The document is an initial report which looks at potential future options for Shilbottle and whether the village and its services would benefit from new housing and affordable housing as well as what other new facilities might prove beneficial.

“The land at Grange Road has been suggested as one area which could be appropriate for development in the longer term but at this stage it is too early to say what the outcome of these investigations might be.“

The outcry comes as residents in the bottom part of the village battle to have access roads and lanes, which have deteriorated since the closure of the colliery, adopted.

While Northumberland County Council is reluctant to take over responsibility for the roads, it has offered to make any excess highways materials available for private pothole repairs.