Opponent fails to halt further 'explosion' of housing in Longframlington

A local councillor made an impassioned – but unsuccessful – plea to halt the ‘explosion’ of housing in a Northumberland village.

Tantallon Homes’ application for 29 new houses on land north of Fairfields, in Longframlington, was given the go-ahead at the Tuesday, February 2, meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

It represents the third phase of the site’s development, with plans already approved on appeal for 58 homes.

The proposal had been recommended for approval, but the first motion to go before councillors for a vote was for refusal, moved by the area’s ward member, Cllr Trevor Thorne.

The proposed housing development would be accessed off the A697.

The proposed development is for six five-bedroom homes, 12 four-bedroom homes and six three-bedroom bungalows, as well as five three-bedroom affordable homes.

Immediately to the south of the site lies a recently completed housing development – Fenwick Park/Armstrong Grove – a development by Alnwick-based housebuilder Cussins.

Moving refusal, Cllr Thorne explained that he thought it was a ‘premature decision’ given the site is outside the settlement boundary proposed in both the county-wide Local Plan and the Longframlington Neighbourhood Plan; neither are unadopted yet though.

Citing cumulative landscape impact as his reason for refusal, he said: “During my time on planning committees, I have watched my village evolve a few houses at a time so they can be absorbed.

“Sadly, in the last two years, we have seen an explosion of housing approvals.”

Addressing the lack of objections, he added: “Villagers feel it’s not worth objecting because we haven’t got a plan in place and developers are just going to railroad us.”

Cllr Jeff Reid said: “Although I agree with Cllr Thorne and I’m not particularly happy with the way it’s been played, I can’t support him on this decision because it’s not going to go anywhere. We will lose an appeal.

“I don’t want to give false hope to any villagers and I don’t want to waste council money in defending the indefensible.”

After Cllr Thorne’s motion to refuse was voted down by 13 votes to two with one abstention, approval in line with the officer’s accommodation was backed by the same margin.

It was proposed by Cllr Barry Flux, who said: “I feel very sorry for Cllr Thorne as ward member, because it’s hard for us as a committee to find a reason to vote against. I don’t think we have a chance in hell at appeal.”

Permission is subject to a section 106 legal agreement to secure £48,000 for secondary education and £22,200 for healthcare provision as well as the on-site affordable homes.

Earlier in the meeting, a written statement read out at the virtual meeting from Cllr Graham Fremlin, on behalf of Longframlington Parish Council, had highlighted how 241 new homes had been built or consented in the village in the last few years – a 66% increase in its size.

He said that the developer claimed the village was desperate for new housing, but had not yet built anything, instead simply following application with application.

“The 94% of the village that has supported the production of the Longframlington Neighbourhood Plan and its policies to date implore you to refuse this and let the village settle before we then welcome measured future development,” he added.

However, in a submission for the applicant, agent Sandra Manson said that the 29 properties ‘can be considered to round off that area of the settlement’, noting that there had been a ‘very low level of local objection’. Aside from the parish council, eight neighbours had sent letters.

She added that Tantallon would be seeking to start work on both sites ‘immediately’.

This includes the adjacent site where 58 units were given the green light by a planning inspector in May 2020.

Those proposals for three, four and five-bedroom houses and bungalows as well as two-bedroom apartments were submitted in September 2018 and then recommended for approval at the North Northumberland Local Area Council meeting in August 2019.

But members went against the advice as they felt the development would have a detrimental effect on the character of the local area and that the design was out of keeping with the village.

As well as the appeal, Tantallon had lodged a second bid for 47 homes on the site, which was due to be decided by councillors in March 2020, but the meeting was cancelled at short notice as coronavirus restrictions started to come into force, before the appeal decision was issued anyway.

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