Northumberland Estates launches second appeal over controversial housing development

A second appeal is underway in relation to a north Northumberland site where two bids for new homes have been thrown out by the county council.

Friday, 30th October 2020, 6:00 am

The Northumberland Estates applied back in late 2017 to build 30 houses on agricultural land east of Greycroft, at West Thirston, but the outline scheme was turned down by the local authority under delegated powers in July 2018.

By the end of the year, the Estates, which represents the Duke of Northumberland’s business interests, had lodged a new outline application for the plot – for nine homes, with two set to be affordable.

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

Council planners rejected this under delegated powers as well, in June 2020, with a second appeal kicked off soon after. Some of the final documents, including the appellant’s response to the council’s case, have been lodged this month.

It states: ‘It is considered that the current proposal of nine dwellings is adequately reduced in scale and the indicative layout reflects the linear village pattern of West Thirston.’

For the first appeal, 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.

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settlement boundary, which ‘still forms a useful function’ but can only be given moderate weight, as it is part of an out-of-date policy.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.

‘Accordingly, I conclude that the appeal site is in an accessible location,’ she wrote.

However, in terms of character and appearance, she explained: ‘West Thirston currently has around 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.’

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