Northumberland village to almost double in size after controversial homes plan approved for North Broomhill

Controversial plans for new homes, which objectors claim would increase the size of their Northumberland village by 45%, have been narrowly approved.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 12:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 2:55 pm

Persimmon’s application for 68 homes on land north-east of Guyzance Avenue, off Togston Road, North Broomhill, was recommended for approval when it went before the North Northumberland Local Area Council on October 17.

But councillors were split and a tied four-all vote meant that it fell to the committee’s planning chairman, Coun Trevor Thorne, to give the deciding vote.

The development would feature nine two-bedroom homes, 48 three-bedroom dwellings and 11 four-bedroom houses.

The proposed site of 70 new homes off Togston Road

Speaking at the meeting, resident Joe Clay highlighted that the Northumberland Local Plan, for which the examination hearings started last week, proposes a settlement boundary and this site is outside that, while suggesting that this development represented a 45% increase in the size of the village.

“This development would do nothing for the village or the community and would only benefit Persimmon Homes,” he added.

Coun Terry Clark, the area’s ward councillor, shared these views, saying that ‘developers are seen having a free rein for over-development in this area’.

“This development has no compromise, no care for the community and no care for the environment,” he said. “We need houses for homes, not just building for profit.”

Looking back towards the village with the proposed access in the foreground and North End Close on the right.

But Nicola Reed, from Persimmon, underlined that the council’s policies all pointed to the fact this this is a sustainable location for housing and this site had previously been identified as a suitable one.

In terms of the environmental issues, she said that they had worked for a long time with the council’s ecologist to deal with the concerns.

Moving approval, Coun Gordon Castle said that he did have worries about the proposed settlement boundary as well as the number of houses, but added that the decision had to be made on planning law and he could not see a reason for refusal.

But Coun Georgina Hill said: “I don’t see any evidence of a housing need and I do think 45% is a huge increase.”

Coun Wendy Pattison agreed, saying: “In my opinion, there’s far too many houses in this proposal.”

Coun Catherine Seymour added: “I think it will be overpopulated and it will affect the character of the settlement immensely.”

However, Couns Thorne and Jeff Watson agreed with Coun Castle, saying they didn’t believe there were planning reasons to turn it down.

Closing the debate, Coun Castle said: “If I lived there, I wouldn’t want the houses there either, but not wanting it is not a planning reason.”

Approval is subject to the completion of a section 106 legal agreement to secure £261,000 for the already over-subscribed Broomhill First School and special educational needs, £46,200 to support an expansion of Broomhill Health Centre and a £40,800 ecology contribution for the council’s coastal mitigation scheme.

In terms of affordable housing, eight of the homes would be for sale at discount market value and another six for affordable rent (equivalent to 17% of the site in total).

Coun Steven Bridgett raised concerns about the discount market value homes not actually being affordable for local people, but was told that national guidance meant that these had to be considered affordable homes.