Objections flood in over changes to controversial development next to A1 in Northumberland

Detailed plans for the first phase of a controversial development next to the A1 at Morpeth have been amended – but aren’t proving any more popular.

By Ben O'Connell
Thursday, 7th May 2020, 7:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 7:27 pm
Map showing the location of the site
Map showing the location of the site

The reserved matters application for the non-residential elements of Mitford Estate’s overall scheme on land north-west of Lancaster Park was submitted to Northumberland County Council in October 2018 and it has recently been updated.

Euro Garages Ltd is seeking planning permission for a trunk road services area (TRSA) with petrol station, a 40-bedroom hotel and ‘innovation centre’, consisting of seven two-storey office units.

The services area was originally planned to feature a store and sandwich shop in the petrol station, two drive-thru restaurants and a drive-thru coffee shop. Now, it is proposed to create one amenity building, for all of the food and other facilities.

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The hotel remains where it was on a separate plot to the north-east, while the business units have been relocated to the southern edge, away from the A1.

Beyond the revised layout, some updated assessments and reports have been lodged.

The changes have resulted in dozens of new objections, including from Morpeth Town Council. Overall, there are now more than 120 representations against the proposals.

The project has long been opposed in the town, with Mitford Estate’s outline bid for the greenfield site was approved by the county council’s strategic planning committee in September 2016 to cries of ‘shame’ from objectors who had packed the council chamber at County Hall.

Previous proposals, which were refused in November 2015, had been amended to reduce the number of homes to 150, while the employment offer was increased following the county council’s decision to allocate the site as designated employment land in its major modifications to the then core strategy – which was withdrawn in the summer of 2017 anyway.

This was due to a site designated as employment land at Fairmoor not being available until 2020 due to an option held by a housing developer.

Despite contravening the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan, the planning officers’ view was that ‘the economic benefits that the proposals would generate far outweigh the development plan policies on which the proposals would be contrary’.

The updated design and access statement also says that separate reserved matters submissions covering the residential and countryside park elements are to be submitted shortly.

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