Housing plans which would increase size of Northumberland village by 30% turned down at appeal

Plans for new housing which would have increased the size of anote-0 Northumberland village by more than a third have been rejected on appeal.

By Ben O'Connell
Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 4:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 11:37 am

The Northumberland Estates applied back in late 2017 to build 30 new homes on agricultural land east of Greycroft, in West Thirston, but the outline scheme was turned down by the county council in July.

This decision was appealed, but, following a hearing last month, a planning inspector has now found in favour of the local authority and dismissed the appeal. The development was refused by the council for seven reasons, although it had subsequently reached agreement with the Estates on five of these.

Therefore, in her decision notice, inspector Helen Hockenhull set out that the main issues were whether the site is a suitable location for residential development and the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The sign for West Thirston. Picture c/o Google Streetview

She also considered the effect on designated natural habitat sites, even though this was one of the issues which had been resolved, and she was satisfied by what had been agreed.

In relation to it being a suitable location, Ms Hockenhull said that the site is outside the settlement boundary, which ”still forms a useful function” but can only be given moderate weight, as it is part of an out-of-date policy.

She added that while West Thirston has very limited facilities, there is good access to neighbouring Felton for residents to meet everyday needs.

“It is not uncommon for a rural village to be dependent on the shops and services in an adjoining settlement, neither is the need to travel to larger settlements either by public transport or car for a wider range of services,” she wrote. 2Accordingly, I conclude that the appeal site is in an accessible location.”

However, in terms of character and appearance, she explained: “West Thirston has about 80 homes. A development of 30 dwellings would significantly increase the number of properties in the village.

“I consider that the scale of development proposed would result in a significant expansion, out of keeping with the built form and character of the village.”