House builders win long-running fight over Seahouses play park
House builders have won their battle to move a public open space – almost two decades after they agreed to its original position.
Plans for the Kings Field development, in Seahouses were approved 19 years ago, with a children’s play area and field for families included in the scheme to sweeten the deal.
But the revised application, put forward by Northumbria Leisure and Granger Homes, was slammed by neighbours, who questioned why changes were necessary after so long.
“This is a 20-year, legal issue that has just dragged on and on and on,” said Guy Renner-Thompson, county councillor for Bamburgh, as well as cabinet member for Children and Young People.
“The residents of Kings Field, who I'm elected to represent, alongside the parish council of North Sunderland, are rightly furious about this.
“They say why should we accept a developer putting in an S106 agreement, ignoring it for 20 years and then trying to change it when it suits them – and I can completely understand where their anger on that comes from.”
Cllr Renner-Thompson was speaking at a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s North Northumberland Local Area Council on Thursday (June 24).
The site was provided for public use through an S106 agreement, under which developers provide public facilities alongside commercial projects, and runs roughly east to west, parallel with Mitchell Avenue.
The latest proposal will now see it ‘re-orientated’, to run north to south along the edge of the housing estate.
According to the council’s planning department the new arrangement will resolve ‘ambiguity’ over land ownership in the area and ensure the site, which is currently described as ‘not usable’ by council staff, is properly maintained in future.
Families living nearby have been less convinced however, with at least 20 formal objections submitted to the local authority.
North Sunderland Parish Council also issued a written statement to the panel, claiming it was ‘concerned’ about the plans, but did not send a representative to speak at the meeting in person.
Ultimately however county councillors agreed to give the scheme the green light, by a margin of 6-4.
Proposing approval, Cllr Norman Thorne said: “We’re not doing away with the open space, we’re just realigning it – I can’t see any reason why this shouldn’t be approved.”