New library base, 1,000 homes and school expansion part of spending proposals agreed for Northumberland

Spending on a new base for a town library, more homes for affordable rent and a school expansion has been agreed by councillors in Northumberland.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 9:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 9:06 am
County Hall at Morpeth

A series of capital investments were signed off by members of the county council’s cabinet at their meeting on Tuesday February 11.

It includes £249,000 to refurbish the Your Link building in Cramlington, which also requires a revenue budget of up to £95,000 a year for running costs.

This proposal will see the call centre from Northumbria House and customer services, the library and the registrars from Concordia Leisure Centre relocated into the vacant, council-owned building.

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Another batch of funding rubber-stamped was as part of a scheme described by the council leader Peter Jackson as ‘close to his heart’ – the pledge to provide 1,000 additional homes for affordable rent.

In this case, it’s £3.7million to acquire a total of 33 homes across two sites – six at Pennine Way, Bellingham, and 27 at Whinney Hill, Choppington.

However, as with much of the £10.2million investment in 67 homes across five sites agreed before Christmas, these proposals would involve buying the properties from Ascent Homes, the house-building arm of the council-owned company Advance Northumberland, and neither scheme has planning permission yet.

Meanwhile, there is £2.5million earmarked for additional teaching accommodation on the St Benet Biscop High School site, which follows the reorganisation of school age ranges in the Bedlington Partnership.

The conversion of Meadowdale Academy to a primary school means there are now pressures on Year 7 and 8 spaces at the secondary level.

The meeting heard that St Benet Biscop was chosen to be expanded, as the Bedlington Academy buildings are under a PFI (private finance initiative) contract and the council would likely have to wait for some time for approval from the Department for Education.

Elsewhere, £722,000 was approved to install solar panels at Blyth Sports Centre, Prudhoe Waterworld and Wentworth Leisure Centre in Hexham, while a £30,000 contribution was agreed as part of a £60,000 overall project to enhance the play area in Seaton Delaval’s Astley Park, in a bid to ensure it retains its Green Flag status.