Plans for 15 new homes can go ahead after Northumberland Estates wins appeal against council rejection

Plans for 15 new homes in Alnwick, which councillors rejected chiefly over landscape impact fears, have now been approved on appeal.

The outline application for 15 self-build plots on land north-east of Stoney Hills, between the golf course and Aydon View/Fairfields, was narrowly turned down by the North Northumberland Local Area Council in December 2018.

When first submitted, the proposal was for 19 homes, but this was later reduced to leave some open space on the site.

Committee members ignored the advice of Northumberland County Council planning officers to refuse the scheme on the grounds of its impact on the landscape and the nearby listed buildings plus concerns about access.

The site in Alnwick where 15 self-build plots have been approved on appeal. Picture c/o Google Maps

But the Northumberland Estates lodged an appeal last summer and the planning inspector has concluded that the scheme should go ahead.

In the decision notice, inpector J Somers states: ‘While the proposal would cause an in-principle change to the character and appearance of the site, the overall effect towards the greater landscape character of the area is within acceptable parameters, with the proposed layout and landscaping going some way in mitigating the effect of the development within the greater landscape.’

It is also concluded that ‘the harm to the heritage assets would be clearly and demonstrably outweighed by the public benefits’ and that ‘the proposal has addressed highway safety concerns raised by the scheme and is unlikely to produce any detrimental effects towards highway safety’.

When councillors made the decision, planning boss Liz Sinnamon had warned that the conservation and highways reasons would be difficult to defend at appeal, given the advice from the authority’s own experts was that there were no issues which would warrant rejection.

Planning officer James Bellis had also explained that as the proposals were in outline, a detailed assessment of the impact on the landscape was not possible, so the conclusion was that 15 homes could potentially be accommodated on the site without a detrimental impact.

But the councillors stuck to their guns and the plans were refused by four votes to three.

The application site is to the south of Alnwick Castle Golf Club’s current clubhouse and car park, where 10 detached houses were approved in October 2018.

A separate application by the Estates for the council to pay its appeal costs was dismissed, as ‘unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense during the appeal process has not been demonstrated’.